“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Samuel Johnson

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Love Boston

The other day I came home from work, taking the Red Line all the way from Park St. to Ashmont, then the Mattapan trolley to the Milton stop. I walked through the parking lot of the Extra Storage place and crossed the bridge with its views of the old Baker Chocolate Factory, crossed Dot Ave before the corner of Adams to avoid the continuing construction there, and made my way north up the hill to cross Adams. Marlise had an overcoat at the dry cleaners in the little three block business district from Dot Ave to Richmond, and I had put the ticket in my backpack so I could get it on my way home.
As I stepped inside, the little old man of the Greek couple who own the place came from the back just as I spotted the sign that read "No Credit Cards".
"I'll have to come back," I said.
He smiled and said, "Yes, okay. Sorry."
I continued north on Dot Ave, past the real estate office, the roofing company, the convenience store, the tavern, the Thai carry-out--a guy in a parked car asked from the driver side if it was open, so I told him it was--past the soul food carry-out, up to the corner at Richmond. There's a bench there in front of the old bakery/restaurant that will soon reopen as a new bakery/restaurant. Someone had spilled a good portion of takeout from the Thai place in a couple of spots near the bench. I stepped over it three times: to cross at the corner light to the bank so I could get cash, on my way back to the dry cleaners, and on my way home, which has me crossing Richmond and cutting through the huge parking lot shared by the CVS and Saint Gregory's Church. I cross lot to the side street that goes to the other little side street behind the church, which I follow to Saint Gregory Street.
I went in the house, hung up the coat, put down my bag, and took the excited dogs out back. As I was throwing away a full dog waste bag, my 19-year-old daughter came home, and seeing me in the yard with the dogs, she came through the back gate. As she got on the sidewalk in back of the house, she kicked off her shoes.
"Tired feet?" I asked.
"No, I think I stepped in puke."
Without missing a beat, I said, "Oh, no, that was Thai food somebody spilled."
She looked at me funny, then we both laughed. She knew I must have just come that way, which is what I explained to her, siting exactly where the spilled rice and veggies was on the southwest corner of Richmond and Dorchester.
The incident made me feel...home. Embedded. Situated. We're transplants to Boston, but we've loved it since we first got here, despite the travails of the journey here driving two U-Hauls towing a trailer and a car down narrow streets and avenues, through "squares" that consist of three to seven streets meeting in an intersection, and through the wonderfully democratic roundabouts.
Coming from the midwest, especially from a city like St. Louis and the urban sprawl that more or less extends across the Missouri River to St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon and westward along I-70, living in a city with public transportation is something we have come to appreciate. And there really is a feeling of having arrived in "our" neighborhood when we get off the trolley at the Milton stop and make our way home the same way. The house is small, the quarters are snug, but the living space extends out into the streets, along the lines of the MBTA to the public spaces and sites of interest that all contrive to make us feel like we are really living here. I love it.