28 December 2007


I’ve been trudging through the snow for the past few weeks. The Charles River – near Harvard, where I cross it – has frozen over and is covered in snow. I’ve never seen anything like it. A few days ago the temperature was mid-30s, and I found myself outside in a sweatshirt telling Rachel it had warmed up a little bit. That struck me as a strange moment, one where I realized I was adjusting to life in a new place. New snow has been piling up over old snow in a series of snow flurries, parks are covered in white, benches are buried, and trees poke from ice like stiff wallflowers pushed onto the dance floor.

I’m reminded every once in awhile that I live in Boston, that I live in a whole new world. A month or so ago, Rachel and I went up to Concord and visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Herman Melville are buried. We also visited the Little Women house, which in true American fashion has been turned into a gift shop with a paid tour. Emerson’s house was closed that day, but like true literature nerds, Rachel and I peaked in all the windows, and Rachel ate a few of the wild grapes growing in his yard. The house that Hawthorne, Alcott, and a few other writers lived was closed as well, and of course Rachel and I played the peeping toms.

That small town is full of incredible history, including a trail marking the path of Paul Revere’s ride. There seem to be ghosts everywhere. I spend most of my time in Harvard Square, where the oldest church in Massachusetts stands. One day as I was taking the train into school I discovered part of the Redline was closed, so the MBTA had setup a series of shuttles to take passengers to the other side of the closure. When I got off the bus, angry from the inconvenience, I noticed a small cemetery that seemed to be a tourist attraction. Of course I went in and discovered Paul Revere’s headstone, along with Benjamin Franklin’s.

This could never happen in Seattle, of course, because Washington’s history goes nowhere near as far back as New England’s. Part of the reason I left Seattle was the lack of motivation, feeling, connection. I never felt like part of the city or that I had a place in it. Nothing felt right, and it never felt like home, though I guess that’s what it is. Oregon gave me a purpose and a focus and a strange sense of camaraderie Seattle lacked. Every time I take the train to school or walk around the city, I feel like there’s something larger going on, like I’m just a fragment of a great big world. It’s humbling and encouraging at the same time.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Actually, that's not *really* Ben Franklin's grave, if you look closely. He's buried in Philadelphia. The thing on Park Street is his parents, but they make it look like it's him to wow the tourists. Which I always thought was kind of disingenuous. Paul Revere is the real deal, though. Sam Adams and John Hancock are in there, too.