If I were to write a love letter to the city of Boston, it would include some variation of this statement: Boston, bare with me, I'm trying to fall back in love with you.
And it's true -- over the summer I made New York my home. After nearly every full day of work at my internship's midtown office, I took the F train back to my Lower East Side dorm room, charging my phone and reapplying my lipstick before walking to my street of NoLita restaurants. I read New York newspapers and New York magazines, watched New York movies and imagined myself as every New York woman I'd grown up wanting to be some variation of -- from Jenna Lyons, Tina Fey, and the nameless legions of super chic women of the Hearst building whose heels click-clacked across the tile floors, to Carrie Bradshaw and the Sally Harry met in Rob Reiner's seminal romantic comedy.
But in Boston I'm an interloper, foreign in the same way so many of us are to the cities and towns we go to school in. I don't digest and internalize the news of this city in the same way I have with my hometown. I don't identify with its accents or recall its landmarks so quickly. I'm surrounded by students that have lived, studied, and pulled all-nighters in buildings situated directly across the street from the Boston Common, but whose diction reveals how new they are to the area when they erroneously describe spending a day sunbathing "in" the Common as opposed to "on" it.
I'm not trying to be persnickety -- there's more to living in this (or any other) city than being able to know and use the correct subject verb agreement that applies its most famous park. But I do think that Medford resident Kim Costa -- who made headlines when she ranted about college students in Boston being "posers" and "interlopers" in a video posted to YouTube last month--had a point. As college students, we are but visitors to an often-foreign land.
Whether they are desolate college towns or bustling metropolises, the cities and towns that serve as our college-town homes are only ours temporarily, a third place in between the cities with the homes we grew up in and the future meccas with the homes we'll build for ourselves. We are some sort of interloper, an earnest one, with a shiny MacBook and a mind open to experience, at once exploring, filming, studying, and partying in neighborhoods and communities that we have no right to, and might never return.
It's important to be aware of this distinct sort of privilege, especially as students descend on places and spaces to try and fail and hone their craft. No matter the tuition or the selectivity of the institution in question, the cities that house our schools' campuses open their streets to allow hoards of eager freshmen -- almost too ready to Google search until they settle on a favorite local burger joint or independent bookstore -- in. It's incumbent upon us to recognize what we are asking of these "training" communities that prepare us for the rest of our lives.
So Boston isn't New York, but it's time for me to realize that it doesn't have to be. As seemingly distant graduation dates (and impending moves to wherever we find jobs) loom closer on our generation's calendars, it's important to appreciate the glorious impermanence of our college homes.