Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's Where Fenway Is

It's been so long since I have written anything for this blog that I hardly know where to begin. We've been home for almost 3 months already and even though that's not quite as long as we were gone, that day is fast-approaching. There are still a lot of stories to tell from when we were gone, but there's a part of me that doesn't know how to begin to tell those stories now that we're home. One of the funny things about having kept the blog while we were gone is that it probably seems as though most of our stories are already out there, already told. But as with most nonfiction writing (and this is something I learned directly from having a best friend who happens to write nonfiction for a living), the stories we told were snapshots of our experiences. So there's this other part of me that wants to mix up the trip posts with stories of our newest adventure here in Boston. You know, ease the transition and all. So this post is not about Southeast Asia, or the trials and tribulations in Delhi, but about our newest home-of-the-moment: Boston.

None of you who read this and actually know us will be surprised to learn that our apartment is still in a state of total disrepair. So even though we actually pay rent for our apartment, and even though we're staying here for more than a few nights, it still feels a lot like we're in a state of transition. And if there's one positive thing to draw from being in a state of transition, it's the fact that I still feel like Boston is on loan to us, that we're hanging out in someone else's home. This may not seem like a good thing. And indeed, as a woman who doesn't have the easiest time adjusting to new cities, it's not always easy. But at times it gives me the opportunity to view this place as just another place, a stop along the way to somewhere called home.

Most of the people I've met who have grown up in Boston love it here. And they don't love it like some people really love, say, mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. No, they love Boston like they love their own beating heart. Without Boston, these people would cease to exist. Their blood would halt in their veins, flowing on a course to nowhere. They would collapse. And the words on their lips in their last moment would be, "Go Sox!" In my long experience with cities, I've found that you cannot dislike a city like that. It's just not possible. Cities like that, cities where the heart and soul of the city really IS the people who live there, just have a way of worming their way into your heart. Pittsburgh occasionally held that charm for me. But it always kept me at arm's length, never wanted to welcome me in to the warmth of its steel buildings. But Boston is the opposite. It holds out its arms, a Sox cap in one hand, something greasy in the other, and says, "come on in, hang out here for a while. Eat some good food. Watch some good baseball. Hate the winters, love the summers." Except that it doesn't really say that, because, c'mon, it's NEW ENGLAND. So instead it stands there looking equal parts threatening, disgruntled, and loving.

One of the interesting things about this place is that before I got here I saw it as a bastion of homogeneity. Except that now that I'm here, I do see more diversity than I expected. It's not everywhere, and it seems like things are often sort of begrudgingly progressive, but there are bits and pieces of change happening all around. And there's a pretty core group of people doing amazingly good work here. The kind of work that makes you stand up and notice it, that kind of good work. It's the kind of work that helps to reinforce my decision to do public sector work here. I think that when you're fighting the good fight, it helps to know that you're not flying solo on the battlefield.

Drivers get a bad rap around here. And not without good reason. Boston drivers are no worse than drivers in any other city. Except, of course, that they are. The traffic here is fine, better than DC, better than Philadelphia. But the drivers? They're ridiculous. Even though the Commonwealth has a pedestrian law that every pedestrian hopes to see strictly enforced, as soon as that pedestrian hops behind the wheel of their car, they'll run you down the moment you take your big toe off the curb and peer gingerly in the direction of the crosswalk. By way of example, I will tell you that before we moved here, Matt never once used the horn in our car. In fact, he didn't even know where it was. He still doesn't. But that hasn't stopped him from pounding his fist on the steering wheel in frustration, hoping to make SOMETHING emit from our car. I, of course, find this kind of driving exhilarating. Every trip to the grocery store is an exciting game of chance. There's also that added bonus to my car trips of ending up halfway-to-Concord every time I get in the car. But whatever. Concord is really pretty. And I know for sure now that it's west of where I live.

I spend most of my days studying for the Bar exam, reminding myself that the pass rate is high, that I've done this once before, and that I deserve an ice cream cone for working so hard. Because of my oh-so-diligent study schedule, I haven't seen as much of the city as I'd like to. I'll admit to being a teeny bit sight-seeing weary, to boot. But in good time, I will walk authoritatively around Quincy Market, smiling in the general direction of the tourists who are amazed and awed by this birthplace of American history. "Yes," I will think to myself, "this is Boston. Welcome to my city. Go Sox."

A Note About Receipts

Written in India

This post is long overdue. It's a bit geeky, but it's still worthwhile. More importantly, it's short. Asia does not appear to have the same powerful privacy lobby that we have in the States. How do I know that? Because when we got our first ATM receipt, I looked down and noticed my credit card number. The whole thing. No X's politely obfuscating the digits of the account number. Then we noticed it again when we paid for Starbucks with a credit card in the airport -- our whole credit card number right there, for anyone to copy down. Clearly, we can't just throw them away. We spent about 20 minutes one day tearing them into tiny and tinier shreds. And then we just started saving them to throw away or shred when we get to Lizzi's Dad's house in Philadelphia. A moment of brilliance came when Chris and Amanda suggested that we burn them. Um, DUH. Except that we never stay in smoking rooms, so for the time being at least, they're still cluttering up the bottoms of our packs, waiting for the day when they meet their fateful end in a shredder. The point behind all of this is to say that even though identity theft in the US is on the rise, it's really easy to do from India. Let us know if you need some quick cash and we'll hang out by an ATM and send you some receipts!