No, I’m not giving up blogging (though, for obvious reasons, it will probably become a little spotty over the next few weeks). Not dying either thankfully. But today is my last full day in Boston. I’m taking a great job in DC, which is also a homecoming for me; I’ll be living less than a mile from the hospital where I was born. Of course, I’m sad about leaving friends–I have nine years of my life here–but that’s personal, and, while fascinating for me, probably not very interesting to you.
But I will miss Boston. It’s a wonderful city. It’s one of the few places where not owning a car is actually possible. The city is so compact that you can walk through so many different neighborhoods in a couple of hours; the Fenway, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Bay Village, the North End, the South End, the Waterfront, and South Boston are all accessible by foot. The transit system, old and creaky as it is, works and can get you most everywhere you need to go. Most cities are lucky if they have a Common or the Public Garden or a Commonwealth Mall or a Greenway–most don’t have all of them.
Unlike most places, Boston has a history, and the city is steeped in it. I never get tired of walking around (as my Boston photos suggest) because the city’s classic architecture wasn’t destroyed (largely by chance as opposed to design–except in the West End). When you don’t have much to do, it’s a great place to walk for half-an-hour. Other things, like the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts, are wonderful things that too many people take for granted–don’t.
There’s also the government and governance. Sure, ‘beloved idiot nephew’ is an official job category, but, unlike many places, things actually work much, maybe even most, of the time relative to most places. I didn’t always agree with Menino (some days I think he would have knocked down Paul Revere’s house and put up a fifty story building if he could have gotten away with it), but he did try to fix and solve problems. Not always successfully, but who would you prefer as mayor: Menino or Rahm Fucking Emanuel? Hopefully, Walsh will continue to fix and improve things. It’s also the most politically involved city I’ve lived in: I once attended a meeting about repairs on the Bowker Overpass that drew 100 people. That kind of civic engagement isn’t found in a lot of places.
What I’ll miss the most though is the character. I’ve lived in many places–such is the life of a scientist–and many of them were nice. If they were to vanish off the face of the earth (let’s ignore the human costs), no one would really miss them. Boston is irreplaceable: it would break my heart were it to disappear. It’s the little things: the accent, the views, the sports fanaticism, the rampant jaywalking, the willingness to close off streets and have a parade at the drop of a hat, the tolerance, walking around and running into people you know, Fourth of July on the Esplanade, and, yes, the Boston Marathon (even, if in 2013, it almost killed me*). It might not be the ‘best’ (whatever that means), but it is unique.
Part of me will still consider Boston home. You don’t abandon friends, and you don’t abandon places you love, even if you see them less often.
*Really. If hadn’t been running late, I would have meet a friend in front of Marathon Sports and been in the bleachers a little after 2:45 pm that day.