02 July 2013

Boston, Princesses, and Brave Heroines

“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and the dragons of home under one's skin, at the extreme corners of one's eyes and possibly in the gristle of the earlobe.”
                                                               (Maya Angelou- from her book: Letter to My Daughter)

My home coordinates lie in Boston.
History and the sea set the backdrop
that grew me up.
The sea fed me
as father brought home fresh catch from Boston's docks since fish was cheaper than meat
and lobster was called poor man's food back then. Fed me in other ways, too,
having more to do
with things mulled, decided, wanted
while watching its rhythms. A gentle teacher, a harsh
teacher, a strict teacher in immutable laws learned
through osmosis and frequent contact. History was repeated
each grade, at home, museums and trails toured
often, father and teachers as tour guides. Birthplace
of the Nation, central to all that came to be. Growing
up poor in Boston set one scenario absorbed early and uncensored at subliminal levels.
Moving later to an affluent area set another and stood in contrast
even to my child mind. The wrench of a ten year old moving from scores
of playmates in a housing project, the freedom of unlimited places to go, people to watch,
things to do. Suburbs look nicer but restrict playmates and places, set up
different expectations. On me. Quit being a scrapper, be a lady. Ladylike prescribed
by the catholic school I went to and the unmarried aunts with whom I lived. A starker
contrast to the Boston housing project is hard to imagine. I never judged the projects harsh,
simply my world. I felt at home. A world rich in colorful folks who knew
how to take care of themselves
and business. Fought for what they thought was right. Or to protect. Fought a lot. Taught
me to fight. I'm not talking figuratively here but physically. Real fights, vanquishing evil fights.
Or so it seemed. I had no time for fairy tale princesses in those days, before Brave,
even with red hair, freckles and Scottish ancestry. But Merida would have been my heroine,
my kind of gal - a wild, witches consulting, shooting arrows at enemies, all in, redefining,
no limits just because we're girls,
fully alive on her own terms kind of gal.

This is in response to Mary over at dVerse Poets who asked us to write about with a Disney theme way back on Saturday but which I missed. So I'm doing it for open link Tuesday since it really got me thinking.


  1. merida is my kinda princess too...spunk..and an identity of her own...and learning how to fight is not so bad when you need it to get by...and i like my life a bit more colorful as well...interesting tale of your beginnings...

    1. It's been a fascinating journey from there to here with the colorful places along the way influencing the outcome. I'm grateful at this point in my life.

  2. Several people reflected on the princess from "Brave", in their poem that day. It was a good choice for you. Good poem. Thanks,

    1. It's good to have such a non-typical princess choice for those of us who don't fit the alternatives.

  3. Mary, greatly enjoyed this. I'm thinking you kept being a scrapper, too, and frankly that's way preferable than being a doormat. ~ M

    1. Those skills have been useful throughout my life although more figuratively. My career was working with the severely and persistently mentally ill and I could feel my warrior protection for the underdog kick in. Met some amazing folks along the way as a result.

  4. Interesting post, I haven't seen Brave but it sparked lively thinking here.

    1. Merida's portrayal is the best part of the movie, the portrayal of the Scottish people not so much.

  5. Funny - my grandsons were here from NJ for a visit this weekend and were watching Brave happily, unaware or uncaring that the protagonist is a girl. About time we get to be the hero.
    Loved the journey you took me on with your poem.

    1. There's good lessons about self-determination for both sexes in it. It's valuable to look back and see the influences and how they shaped us and how random events can change life's direction. In my case my mother became desperately ill and we had to move and live with my aunts for a few years.

  6. I watched Brave with my daughter and really enjoyed it ~ Excellent choice ~

    1. Good messages for daughters and granddaughters.

  7. and the sea can continue to feed, in so many ways....

    1. And so it has. Other than a five year stretch early in my marriage, I've always lived near it and been fed by it.

  8. Well, I guess I am going to have to see BRAVE. That is one Disney movie I did not see, but what I am hearing about it I like! Enjoyed reading a bit of your life history here. Sounds as if you grew up learning to be comfortable in a diversity of 'worlds,' which is not a bad thing!

    1. I actually hadn't thought about it in those terms but it's a useful way to conceptualize what happened. It's all what brings me to right now so it's good.


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