Trish Ramos is a local girl made good. She was born and raised in Fayetteville and spent Saturday afternoons downtown. She attended Fayetteville State University, a traditionally black college, on a minority scholarship when the school was trying to attract white students. Downtown slid way down and no one went there. There was controversy over whether the centerpiece structure was a slave market or not. Trish moved away and then returned home, taught junior high English and Journalism. Now, downtown’s picking back up with coffee shops and boutiques and Trish is a middle school principal. She likes her work, well enough, but is counting the four years until she will retire. “I’ve survived all the changes in education.”
Trish met Brad, a German blond Midwesterner with a fascination for all things Irish and a PhD in History, at a music club. Brad came to Fayetteville to teach at FSU. He wrote the book on Irish pubs, plays guitar, and enjoys a pint himself now and then. He also happens to be blind. “The blind card trumps the girl card every time,” Trish proclaims as she moves about the kitchen preparing dinner. Brad smiles sheepishly, tacitly acknowledging that every disability has its benefits.
Brad travels most summers, often to Ireland, Costa Rica, and within the U.S. This summer, Trish spent two weeks with him in Ireland, where they stayed with couchsurfing friends he’s made over the years. “I first went to Donegal in 1989. There were donkey carts in the streets, everyone was on the dole, but the pubs were full.” The Celtic Tiger clawed that era away, and then the recession laid the Tiger flat. But Ireland still charms Brad.
Fayetteville’s charms are less evident, but after eleven years here and recently tenured at FSU, Brad calls the city nourished by Fort Bragg home. “There are three communities here: the white community; the black community; and the military community. We have good restaurants from every country we’ve gone to war with.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I hope we live more wisely than we do, especially in terms of the suburbanization of America. It is not sustainable or healthy. We drive our box car to our box store and return to our box house. We are a fundamentally lonely country. The more we’re on social media the lonelier we get. It’s individual freedom gone wild.
“I want everyone to live on little family farms and have children that are above average.” – Brad