Brittany Bulens grew up in a pretty little suburb just outside of Boston. When it was time to leave for college, she moved into a dorm near the Fenway, where she still couldn't get much into sports, but did get into a bunch of arguments over expired coupons while working as a Shaw's cashier. Brittany later spent a few years in Southie, did some neat internships and eventually graduated from UMass Boston with an English degree. Right now, she's living in South Korea, teaching that fantastic language to the very curious minds of elementary school students.
It will be April when I'll cruise through your twilit sky, over dancing beams of light whose origin can only be speculated from high above busying office buildings, morning frost at the bus stop across from that church in Copley, rickety sounds of grocery carts, the daily flip of signs that hang on coffee shop front doors. By then, I will have spent a year and a half parading my curious, lovely mind through worlds once so foreign and enigmatic. I will have formed deep, unexpected friendships, heard the stories of marvelous strangers, ridden atop an elephant, and sang Christmas songs while much too far away from your seasonally adorned Frog Pond.
At moments, I've yearned for the familiarity that comes with your street signs, one-way roads, and pesky bike lanes. Sometimes I crave a little cheat with Mike's Pastry. So Boston, this is a love letter for every single neighborhood, every community, group, affiliation that exists there, every inch, bend, turn, corner of your city lines and the proud, passionate, diverse people they encompass.
I want to share in this vulnerable admission, the observations of a very bright, always inquisitive once college student who spent most evenings texting from behind a Shaw's register, and always humoring the elderly customers with her saintly charisma.
I've also spent moments standing still on the very top concrete step, with my apartment door closed behind me. There in daybreak, noted a panorama of colorful siding, vacant stoops, cars parked abreast along stained sidewalks, and all of it existing within one second of serenity, coated by the novelty scent of morning air. It's the authentic Boston scene, romanticized by outsiders and mocked countless times inside cinema walls.
It's remarkable how perceptive I am. It's remarkable, the sight of six kiteboarders moving majestically over the bay. Perfection, their earthly silhouettes lifted against real, unmatched, divine blueness. I watch them when I go running. Sometimes I reckon they're quite stunning even bone dry and back on the ground, as I pad down on black, gritty asphalt that's shaped round like a sweet bowl of sugar in the sea.
But perhaps the more lurid storylines take place away from the sugar bowl, beneath traffic and closer to the 23rd hour. A few of us once spotted our friend's betrayal outside that movie theater by the commons, then camouflaged ourselves from sidewalk to sidewalk, lurking behind him right down the stairs into Boylston station. Bostonians aren't expecting a seamless existence, and occasionally we fall asleep feeling foolish. There was that noble time we handed a stranger ten bucks because he needed to get back to the shelter, and that day a week later when he was at the same bus stop with the same story. One night I stormed over cobble stones in the North End, still cursing at a shadow in the disappearing apartment door behind me, and then sat in my red halter, replaying it all while the meter ran. You see, every unique, passionate tale, set at the base of your pretty metropolitan illuminations, gets crumpled up and torn apart once in a while.
Bostonians still radiate awesomeness on all seven days of the week, though, even during their inevitable setbacks and now I know what you're thinking. You're linking this untouchable splendor to some usually winning sports teams. Let's make it clear here in writing, that popular Beantown fandom is just a truly enjoyable top tier at the surface of all your neighborhoods. Right now, there's a couple that's grown up in that town since birth, their eyes rolling at overhearing some yuppies babbling about preserving the area's environment, all of them huddled under the same heater at an outside train station, all of them warming their hands inside pockets, and all of them with an equal, blissful love of your city. You're a gem, and it's rooted deep, entrenched in a harmony often unseen below more trivial layers, but prevailing in the minutes we begin to feel that security shatter.
I think most people rush around town believing they have not a single factor in common with the quickly passing faces of strangers, but that becomes a fading theory when the whole community must rely on one another. They wondered how it could be possible for tragedy to hit their town, affect their homes, devastate their neighbors. They thought, how dare one cold soul leave their fellow Bostonians heartbroken. A bond is fixed at the core of your districts, which enriches this badass city, allowing compassion and a hopeful sense of comrade to emerge when those strong spirited characters of Boston are left feeling vulnerable.
The truth is, when the Red Sox won the World Series, I was working on this very article while listening to Simon and Garfunkel lull me through the speakers of my favorite coffee shop. Somehow, I've always had the ability to captivate, with my deepest thoughts and words placed in some magical sequence on paper. This year I'll miss my family during the holidays for the second time in a row. I'll long to be home with them but before I grace Logan again, I'll take just my backpack to explore some fascinating new terrain, write while on distant soil, create among unfamiliar people, and follow calculated, well mapped trails through several Asian countries, with every stop neatly planned for a poet and a one man band.