Perhaps the most significant personal lesson I learned in 2012 is that I have become, down to my marrow, a city person. Never would I have predicted this. I grew up in Vermont, went to college in the Happy Valley and dreamed of being an artsy recluse at the end of a dirt road somewhere. A place without trees felt barren. The lack of the deep earthy smell of forests and fields made air feel dirty. Boston felt crowded and cold. New York felt like it was going to eat me alive. I couldn’t see any beauty in cities – too loud, too filthy, too claustrophobic.
So, moving back to Western Mass after seven years in Reykjavik, Providence, Boston, and Providence again seemed so doable. It would be comfortable. It would feel like home. It would fit… except it didn’t. I tried and I tried and I tried, but it was like trying to pull on pants that are too small. And like ill-fitting pants, I kept trying. The emotional equivalent of dieting. Maybe now… I’ll try walking more, lose a little weight, then they’ll fit…
And maybe it would have happened after more time, but when we decided to move back to the city, I was relieved. I didn’t love Boston the first time around and I’ll always have a soft spot for PVD as my spiritual home, but now… it’s home. I felt it so much walking around the South End, running mundane errands. Yes, yes, yes, this is it. This is where I want my kids to grow up. This feels right. It’s the difference between walking out the door onto the T and geeting in and out of the car in so many nondescript parking lots. The difference between neighborhood playgrounds and backyards that need mowing. Some may prefer the latter – but the former is where I’m comfortable. My former city claustrophobia turned into rural agoraphobia – the feeling of being isolated between all those picket fences.
And so, here we are. Spending our new year in the shadow of tall buildings. Trading the breathing room of a four bedroom house for the adventures of a bustling city and a small two bedroom nest to come back to at the end of the day.
Already the moms at playgroup talk about moving out of the city for better schools, and I silently think “Not us, no, not us.” Perhaps we might have tried it had we not had this too-tight ill-fitting year, but the problem about moving to the suburbs is you have to live in the suburbs. We’re not going to be trading in our T passes for a second car anytime soon. It’s unbelievable that this is the year I have to tour preschools already – I’m not going to worry about kindergarten quite yet.
This is our first full year in Boston and I want it to be a year of making it home – digging deep into our city and finding our niche. We rang in the New Year trying to watch fireworks in Copley Sq. from the vantage point of our roof, only to be cockblocked by a medium-tall building. Typical Boston. This city will never make it easy for you, even if it seems like it should be possible. We’re learning that while we can’t make Beantown bend to our whims, we can refit our whims to suit the situation – to whit, enjoying this view of the Pru and letting Paulo play in the snow that had accumulated on the deck.
Boston, we’re fully committed to making the best of you.