Down by the banks.
I never thought that I'd say this, but I lost my heart to Boston. I know exactly when it happened, too. I was in Boston for the summer between my first and second year of medical school, and had to drive every day from my apartment in Cambridge down to the South End, where the New England Medical Center was. The drive along Mass Ave was torturous - 30 minutes to drive 5 miles, anyone? It was practially like being at home, except there were potholes and pedestrians and people who didn't know how to drive - so I looked for shortcuts, even though at that time I had to stick to Mass Ave or I'd get horribly lost. It was quite comical, really.
But I figured out how to connect to Storrow (which really shouldn't have taken me as long as it did, but hey, have you seen the streets here? And the drivers? You have to drive dangerously in order to get anywhere here. No wonder insurance is so high), and that drive, when you're level with the Charles.. it was right then, the first time I made that drive. That's when I fell in love with Boston. The sun-dappled waters, the sailboats, (me in my ACed car, so I didn't have to deal with the humidity), the lovely brick buildings in the background. Picturesque. There isn't anything like that in this country. (As a matter of fact, the majority of these pictures were taken while I was driving. Ooh, yes, I was operating a motor vehicle and a camera at the same time. I am a multitasker. I am a daredevil! I like to tempt bad Boston driving! My camera should be locked up in my trunk while I drive, along with any open bottles of alcohol.)
And every time I take that drive along the river, whether I'm on Storrow or on Memorial Drive, even now, at any time of day, my heart melts just a little bit more. Even though I would not touch a toe to that gross water (and I've had friends who've jumped in it, drunk of course. You'd have to be. Ah, college), I love it. I love to sit on its banks and sun and watch people float by on their boats. Not quite as great as being on a sandy beach, but pretty goshdarn close. I really would have loved to have sailed on it as well (read: find someone else who knew how to sail, and sit on their boat sunning) - but I need an excuse to come back, don't I?
And at the wedding, when we were on the 38th floor looking down at the city, I teared up inside a little, for then I realised that I was really leaving. Not for a week, or even for a couple of months. No, a good solid 5 years of my life - at least - is promised to LA, rendering Boston a place for vacations during that duration, and not my home. It's a weird concept, really. Home, to me, has been the East coast for the longest time, whether it was Providence or Boston, perhaps in part due to the fact that my family was a good 6 hour plane flight away. This space I made for myself here was my own.
It wasn't a complete love affair with Boston. I hated the weather. I complained that I had to buy flats - the indignity of it all! - because my heels kept getting stuck between the ill-paved bricks on the walk to school. I made fun of the funny accents because dude, even a person who is the most wicked smaht person in the world sounds like a buffoon with this accent (At least I don't outright laugh in their faces, as one of my friends does because she just can't keep it in). I kvetched that the drivers were horrible and there was no parking and the streets were shitty - and let's not even get into the fact that none of the major streets are labelled, which is just fabulous when you're trying to figure out where you are. I whined that there were NO guys at ALL to date. Regardless of all that, however, it just took returning to the river to calm me dow again and to be re-enchanted by the city. Good thing I lived only a block away, and can see the river from my room (but only if it's winter and there are no leaves on the trees).
Boston was also where I really grew up and got on that path to becoming - gasp! - an adult. I spent my life really growing up on the East coast. Away from my parents, I had to make decisions for myself, decisions that sent me hurtling down a completely different path than one I would have predicted when I got into college - or even when I graduated. And yes, even though I spent 6 years in Providence, first as an undergrad then in medical school - but then, I was just following the paces. I was doing what my parents wanted me to do, and while I had tons of fun (namely in my undergrad years), it wasn't the same as this one year in Boston.
This year in Boston, a rebellion of sorts against my parents and medical school, was the one that established my future career. It firmly shut the door of medicine, with its yes, large salaries but also horrendous work hours, with its feelings of confinement and smothering, and opened up an entirely new one. One that I'm still not sure about, but one with which I'm infinitely happier. Hey, at the very least, I have my summers free. And that, my friends, is something I never want to give up. (But don't talk to me about becoming a teacher. I fear I wouldn't make a good one. Professor - well, we'll see. The mere fact that I'll have to be a TA someday tickles me to no end.)
I think there was a part of me that always thought I'd stay on the East coast, even though I would loudly proclaim I was going back to LA as soon as I could. I suppose I thought that the stars would magically align - I'd meet the right guy, fall in love, have a magnificient job here, and it would all work out so easily. Besides, I was always more East coasty than West coasty, no matter how I talk and act sometimes. You can talk to my friends - it's weird, but true. But things were decided differently - there's no great love (I repeat - ergh, have you seen the guys here?), LA is offering more career-wise - and so depart, I must. It makes sense, at least for now, even though it's so hard.
It was hardest saying goodbye this time. I'm not one for emotional displays other than happiness, but I think I cried more on Sunday than I have in the last ten years. One'd think that I'd have had to say goodbye before, but I actually never had to until yesterday. After college - well, I was staying on for medical school and besides, everyone moved to New York or Boston anyway, both of which were short drives away. When I left medical school - well, good riddance to that. I was happy to be done and gone. But now that I'm leaving Boston, I'm just a wreck, even though there were only a handful of people left in Boston to leave (everyone else I was friends with having scattered at the beginning of the summer, and hrm, there were no tears then.) It's been a great summer, y'all, and I'm glad that I stuck around for it.
Yesterday, I first had to say goodbye to FB. Friends and I went to his soccer game (five years I've known him, and this is the first game where I've ever seen him play), and spent the majority of the time lolling around, having a lovely picnic lunch, playing with the puppy, and occassionally paying attention to what was happening on the field (mainly to check out how cute the players were and to ogle their sometimes shirtless bodies. Mmm. I have to say FB has a really great body, but someone needs to get a tan.). But after the game, it hit me as he ambled over to say goodbye. It was the first of four big goodbyes, and perhaps the one that meant the most because I've known him the longest and even though there's been more than enough drama regarding him this summer - he's still one of the few people I would trust implicitly to always be there when I needed him. He's been the one constant factor in my life since I met him. And now he's going to be a 3-hour time difference and one long airplane flight away. And when he gave me a kiss on the cheek and started tearing up (yes, repeating that whole "It's not forever.." speech to which I responded, "I'm not dying you moron" - hey, it's that kind of friendship you can't beat) - the bastard! He's not allowed to cry! Boys don't cry! Only girls get to! - I almost burst out bawling, and that set the mood for the rest of the evening as my friends (who had scuttled off to avoid crying also) moped around the apartment attempting to help me finish packing.
And those two other goodbyes last night were just as hard, and I'm not going to get into them here because quite honestly, I might start crying again and I am not cute when I cry. Suffice it to say that sure, I went to a great school and all, but it wasn't the school that mattered as much as the people I met while there. I have another hoity toity piece of paper to add to the diploma collection, but it's the friendships that mean an infinite amount more. While I'm fully cognizant of the fact that FB is indeed right and that really, it's not a true "goodbye", but really an "until later", and that I will be back before the end of the year (hey, I need an excuse to wear the fur) - it's different. I've never been this pathetically weepy over leaving a place before, and I don't quite know what to make of all of it. Dude, it sucks.
When I had that first one-way ticket to Providence, I barely gave it a second thought. Hey! I was going off to college! Big exciting adventure, and I'm getting away from home! But this one that I have back to LA - it's honestly quite a little scary. Telling people I'd bought this one-way ticket would send chills down my spine. One-way tickets hold a certain measure of finality and closure; it's admitting that you don't plan on returning anytime soon. It's still very unreal that this afternoon, I'll get on an airplane and fly back to the land of sunshine and smog, without knowing when next I'll return to this coast. But hey, there's a new adventure in the works, and while I won't have a river to run to anytime I need to be calmed, it will be quite fine.