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Transience kick-back

26 June 2011

Almost three months ago, I wrote a post called “On transience”. In it, I was bemoaning the fact that Boston simply was not where I belonged. I had spent the weekend in New Haven—where I am moving next year—and had begun to recalculate my sense of place. In it, I said:

But Boston is a city of transience, with a dual nature: difficult to claim and apt to be replaced. And today, that latter showed itself. Explaining why I couldn’t continue a text conversation as I was driving today, I typed, “Almost back to Boston,” and suddenly, a huge distance grew between myself and Boston. I was not going “back“ to Boston, as if that was where I belonged. In fact, the word “Boston” written on the roadsigns seemed impossibly far away from my sense of place. Boston, in that moment, became somewhere I could go to but not back to. As I saw the Hancock and then the Pru rise about the tree line, what I felt was not a sense of going back, not a sense of comfort. Neither was it a sense of dread. But rather, an understanding that this is not my home, that Boston is not my place…Boston, fickle and transient, was replaced.

Now, I have to eat my words. By way of excuses, I will say that I was coming off the end of a harsh winter and a harsher spell of Seasonal Affective Disorder; also, that weekend I had gotten to reconnect with several friends I had not seen in a while, and was waxing nostalgic about my time with them.

Boston, however, is not fickle as I once thought. Instead, she is patient and insistent. And when she comes back to life from the death of winter, boy is she splendid. Over the past few months, as I have been thinking about what it will mean to leave Boston, I am already beginning to have feelings of nostalgia. (The gang in “How I Met Your Mother” would dismiss this as “graduation goggles”, but I am having no similar warm feelings towards my job…) I start thinking about all the people and places I have grown to love in this city and leaving them is already beginning to feel painful. There are many things I will be happy to leave, but those things—though dominant in my thoughts and speech—are minor in number. The rest, I am afraid, are things I love about Boston that I have begun to take for granted.

This weekend, I was back in New Haven, in fact. Leaving Boston felt painful as I knew it was a foretaste of my moving in a month; seeing the Pru and Hancock when I was driving back warmed my heart. As I was explaining to my friend G. this weekend, though I love the South, I do not think I can move back anytime soon. There are too many things about Boston that I love which simply do not exist in the South; living here has allowed me to see a life that I could never dream of having in my homeland. Ultimately, I have to justify and make excuses for the South when I talk about life there.

Another friend, M., this past week remarked that I had assimilated fairly quickly into Bostonian life. I looked at him skeptically and asked him what he meant. He explained that it takes most people four to five years to assimilate as well as I have in ten months. I responded that I am a social chameleon and tend to do that, wherever I go; in fact, I was told the same thing in France. However, I do not think that explanation is enough. At least in some small part, I have adapted to Boston not simply because it is what I do, but because there is truly something of Boston in me, and something of me I had never seen before in Boston.

As a brief “about me” I composed this past week says it, “Southerner in affect, Bostonian in effect.”

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