Four years ago last week, the hubs and I landed in Boston, exhausted after four days and two thousand miles of driving cross-country (with the help of our friend Drew) and emotionally wrung out from so many good-byes in Abilene.
We moved into a smallish but spacious apartment with creamy white walls and scuffed hardwood floors that glowed golden in the afternoon light. We visited a tiny new church and J started his first full-time, post-graduate-school job as a therapist. And we began the long, slow process of making a home in a city wildly different from any place we’d ever known.
By now, we’ve learned a few things about life in Boston and the Northeast, including:
- How to interpret the Boston accent, dropped ahhhhs and all.
- The intricacies and frustrations of the subway system, otherwise known as the T.
- The meaning of the phrase “bone-chilling cold.”
- Related: a down coat and good snow boots are so worth the investment.
- How to order cannoli at Mike’s Pastry (pro tip: there are no lines – just push your way in!).
- The necessity of carrying cash for toll roads, mom-and-pop businesses (like Mike’s) and the farmers’ market.
- The vagaries (and delights) of two different library systems.
- How to register a car in Massachusetts, which is far more complicated than it ought to be.
- What it’s like to live 2000 miles away from family, see them a few times a year and miss them every day.
- How to juggle trips to exciting destinations with trips home to see said family (it’s a constant balancing act).
- How to commute on public transportation without losing our minds. (Usually.)
- Most of the words to “Sweet Caroline,” a Fenway tradition.
- The location of nearly every bookstore in Boston, Cambridge and Brookline.
- How the ducklings in the Public Garden will be dressed if a Boston sports team makes the playoffs.
- That making plans with friends is a process: spontaneity is tough in a big city when everyone’s schedules are packed.
- There is no decent Tex-Mex food in greater Boston that I know of – so we make our own, or go to Portsmouth.
- How to shovel snow and reserve a parking spot after you’ve shoveled it out. (Pro tip: milk crates.)
- Semi-related: how to survive when the power goes out in February.
- Various bits of Harvard lore – so much fun since I work there now.
- Wildly varied, sometimes wacky nuggets of colonial history and Boston trivia.
- The quickest routes to our beach, pictured below.
- The location of the best lasagna, gelato and spicy calamari in the North End. (Sadly, the place with the best fettuccine has closed.)
- The difficulty and the rewards of maintaining relationships at a tiny church whose members are spread across the city.
- Related: how to live with a much smaller and uniquely precious circle of friends.
- Many, many winter survival tricks.
- What it’s like to stand with a city after a tragedy. (We are Boston Strong.)
- How amazingly different life can be in a new place, even when you’re in the same country.
We’ve learned much more than that, of course – so much that is difficult to put into words, nonverbal but no less valuable and vital. This is a charming, mercurial, frustrating, vibrant, beautiful city, and living here has changed me in ways I can’t quite articulate.
Happy four years, Boston. It’s been an adventure. And it’s not over yet.