Central Square is rough around the edges. When I first moved to Boston, it was hard to adapt. I’m a mountain girl; a Utah native. I’m a desert creature, born to withstand the extremes. At first, I felt as if I’d betrayed myself- trading high peaks and the dynamic vastness of desert plateaus for sky scrapers and a wilderness of humanity. I felt boxed in and smothered by concrete. At home in Salt Lake City, the wilderness is near at hand. Boston was a completely different beast.
As a graduate student at MIT, life was less than a dream, but in my darkest moments I was surprised that it was the city itself that came to my rescue.
Cambridge has an old soul, and it shows. Once I let my guard down, the rhythm of the city made its way inside of me. Like the windows in the old victorian mansion I called home, I shook and rattled awake to the morning toll of the city hall bell tower. The epic energy of tuesday bluegrass at the Cantabrian got my feet to stomping; my first lesson in the sometimes aggressive art of the Mass. Ave. pedestrian dance theater. Soon the brusk and prickly facade of Bostonian culture melted to reveal a warm hearted, earnest, even playful spirit that I now cherish.
Where I used to scoff at the lunch time crowds that swarmed the tiny lawn in front of city hall (The nearest “park” to speak of), I now miss those sunny afternoons reading and people watching. Bostonians taught me that solitude is sometimes over rated. Car sharing, public transportation, and old-fashioned hoofing it offered me a view you just can’t get on endless highways. The haphazard triangular tessellation of one way streets and alleys made every outing an adventure, invigorating the spirits (and at times testing the nerves), a refreshing change from the robotic grid-system of Salt Lake. Some parts of the city feel as inaccessible as canyonlands. A trip to the laundromat is more of a metropolitan backpacking expedition than a walk in the park.
At home, I’d go to the mountains to find myself, but Bostonians know there is some piece of you that can only be found reflected in the faces of a million strangers. Looking through this urban kaleidoscope, each new perspective flashes and glimmers until you find you’ve found a million new friends.
And if I ever needed solitude, or a vast expanse, I’d only need to take stroll along the Charles River. The original city slicker, the Charles became my dearest friend and closest confidante. If I had any doubts about my growing love for this rough and tumble town, they were banished by the orchestra of blossoming trees and flowers around town. The fall colors that followed were equally breath taking. I had vowed never to love the east, but these things, like the seasons, always seem to change.