Posts tagged ‘boston’
1. The water.
The Atlantic Ocean, as deep and true as denim, so blue it melts into the sky, horizonless. And the Charles River. Years from now, I’ll remember riding the Red Line from Boston into Cambridge at night – the way the lights streak across the black water like crayons lined up in a box.
After my childhood in Seattle to my college years in Boston, I don’t think I could live anywhere but a coast.
2. The seasons.
I always come back to school right at the tail end of summer. Heat sinks into the subway stations like poisonous gas, and whatever you wear, it’s too much fabric. With October right around the corner, though, fall settles in. I love the way golden light fans out from behind buildings and through alleyways. Yellow leaves get stuck in the rain currents along the sidewalk. It’s my favorite time of year.
Boston has also taught me the true meaning of winter. Winter is wet hair freezing solid on the way to class, two pairs of socks, ears tucked into scarves. Torrential flurries of snowflakes that burn skin. Frankly, winter is miserable.
But then there’s that one morning – and it’s always a morning, and you’re never quite prepared for it – when you step outside and every tree in Boston has bloomed. Cherry blossoms opened like pale pink popcorn, blue skies, tender green leaves. It’s such a miracle that this can happen despite the sheets of ice and crazy wind tunnels, it makes everything worthwhile.
3. The quirkiness.
I love the farmer’s markets all over the city, the narrow brick alleys begging to be explored, the late night restaurants in Chinatown. Boston constantly surprises me. Today I discovered the food trucks – why didn’t I know that Boston has food trucks??
4. The history.
A handful of the founding fathers are buried mere blocks from campus. I walk through the oldest park in America to get to my boyfriend D-’s apartment in Beacon Hill, a neighborhood of gas lamps and weathered brick. Everywhere you look, historic churches stand between skyscrapers. The contrast is astonishing.
5. These amazing people.
Sure, most of them aren’t from Boston. A-’s from Colorado, C-’s from LA, and S- is all the way from Guam. But nine months of the year, they’re all mine. They make Boston feel like home.
Why do you love _______?
I spent my last day in Seattle with my parents. We woke up early and got pancakes at one of our favorite dives, a run-down little restaurant near the airport. I spent the afternoon at home with Dad and the dogs, looking through old photo albums. We shared some good sushi for an early lunch, and ice cream sundaes for dessert. Even though sleet fell and dirty puddles collected, damp leaves sticking to our soles, I couldn’t have felt happier about my last afternoon.
At home after dinner, I watched my mom boil water for tea, facing away from me. I sat at the table and checked my email as she talked, only half listening. She stopped mid-sentence, and I finally noticed that she’d been crying – so quiet I hadn’t heard from three feet away.
She left the kitchen and I heard the closet open down the hall. She came back with a white cloth napkin with sky blue trim. “Recognize this?”
The last time I saw my parents before winter break was in Boston, a few days before classes started. We had dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant in the North End, a light meal before I left in near tears and caught the next train to my dorms. We didn’t say goodbye for very long because I didn’t want my parents to see I was upset.
“After you walked out, I started crying,” my mom said. I unfolded the napkin and turned it around in my hands. It was so neatly folded and wrinkle-free that it looked new.
“Your father and I left soon after you. We walked down the street and he gave me the napkin – he stole it from the restaurant. He said he thought I might need it.”
And here it was now, a seeming lifetime later, in our chipped little kitchen.
“We walked a little further and went into some of the stores. Your dad, he picked up this jar of something and said ‘Oh – Elissa would really like this.’ He just kept looking at it and finally he bought it. He said, ‘We should give it to her.’”
“The fig spread?”
I remembered this. I thought I’d said goodbye to my parents for the last time, but later that night, my dad stopped by the lobby of my dorm. He had a box of water crackers, a thick wedge of creamy brie, and a small glass jar of an incredible fig jam. It was the last real quality food I had before I settled into my routine of café sandwiches and dining hall chicken fingers. It was the last little bit that felt like Seattle as I settled into Boston.
The first week of school, I passed it around the common room and shared it with my floor. Nobody had eaten anything like that fig spread before, and I saw people right, left and center falling in love. Between my roommate E- and I, the jam lasted a few weeks. When it was gone, I washed out the jar and set it on the windowsill. That’s where it is now, catching the fleeting light that filters into my room.
When it was gone, I craved more, but I wasn’t about to buy more on my college student budget. One afternoon E- came into the room with a grocery bag. She pulled out a package of crackers. “I keep thinking about that fig spread,” she admitted. With or without it, the crackers satisfied us, and now our room is always stocked with a box or two.
Mom was smiling now. “After the hard time your dad gave me about being upset, he was the one buying stuff for you half an hour later. He said we should go to Whole Foods and get something to go with the jam. I thought he was being ridiculous but he was so stubborn about the idea.”
They didn’t know where Whole Foods was, but they took a train and managed to find it. I can picture Dad walking up and down the cheese aisle, like he used to when we shopped together, looking for the particular brie I’m so smitten with. I imagine him looking at shelves and shelves of crackers, deciding which box would go best with the spread.
As I thought about all the work behind that simple gesture, a paper bag with a last-minute snack, I started to feel sad for the first time about winter break ending. I gave my mom a long hug and told her not to cry. I folded up the napkin, following the creases, and handed it to her.
“Hang onto this. I’m serious. Keep this forever, okay?”
“Okay.” She paused, and then smiled. “I’ll use it at your graduation.”
She put the napkin back in the linen closet, Dad came and sat down, and the two of them talked at the dinner table as I finished packing.
Boston, here I come.