As soon as I had learned this January that the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia (Lisa, don't read past the synopsis or it'll be ruined for you) was going to be performed in Boston this spring, I booked a flight--I studied this play in college in the fall of 1997 and have wanted to see a production of it ever since--and emailed Lisa and Cheryl to see if it would be possible for them to make the trip up from their homes a few hours away for a visit. "That will be great!" wrote back Lisa. "That would be wonderful to meet you in person!!!" wrote Cheryl. :) Minutes after running into these guys--
--outside my subway stop at Boston's Old State House Wednesday, then, I found myself hugging Lisa and Cheryl and telling them that having had this trip to look forward to this spring had made the last few months of winter so much easier.
I love that picture. ♥ We had lunch in the North End, where I chose the
After Lisa and Cheryl headed back to Haymarket Station to catch their train around 3:30 that afternoon, I walked--and I mean walked, until about 6:30 pm, only stopping to take a few pictures, since I became spectacularly--but blissfully--turned-around on my walk to my hotel. It was the prettiest walk. I don't know if the city workers were just out in full-force during my visit or if the wind blew it away right before I turned every corner, but the only litter I ever saw on the ground there was cigarette butts and hardened gum. It was so CLEAN, I was so impressed. I pick up more trash in a fifteen-minute walk here in my own city than I saw in Boston in two and a half days.
Boston, like any new love--or any love worth its salt, I suppose--makes me want to be an even better version of myself: Smarter and stronger and more athletic and kinder and more helpful to tourists here at home. I came back wanting to be a better woman, and maybe it is the effect of the city or maybe it is more "me," but I've lived in New York City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and outside Milwaukee and didn't walk away from any of those places as inspired as I felt while in Boston. I connected with something in this place, and I'm still on a high from it.
A sweet moment from inside Fenway Park Thursday: Before the game began, a guy probably my younger brother's age in the next section over held the seat beside him steady so his maybe-four-year-old son could climb up onto it. Once they got settled, an older man leaned forward and said to the young dad--all in endearing stereotypical Boston accent--"If this is yuh son's fuhst time heeuh and he can't see past that bah, I'll switch seats with him so he can see bettuh." The dad thanked him but declined his kind offer, since his son was too young to pay much attention to the game anyway and likely wouldn't care at all about the obstructed view the "bah" (i.e. bar [i.e. one of the poles that support the upper-deck seats above our grandstand section seats]) caused. The kindness, though! ♥
And another sweet Fenway Park moment that continues to make me laugh: Two guys my age or a little older who were sitting together were talking, and one of them suddenly said to the other, "Don't cuss here." :) Except it sounded like "Don't cuss heeuh," making it even more charming. :) Love!
And as I reported to my parents and brothers immediately upon checking in with them: Everyone was SO over-the-top nice and helpful while I was there. I encountered this kind of I'll-give-up-my-seat-for-your-kid/Don't-cuss-here goodness so many times in my two days there. I asked someone on Beacon Street the quickest way to such-and-such, and she not only answered, but also pulled out her phone, looked up the destination on a map, then--over my thanks and protests, since she'd helped so much already--patiently read me street-by-street directions too. Another woman took the extra time to explain which local bus was heading toward my destination and how often it would pass along a certain street, and she pointed out the nearest stop for it too. When I called the theater needing to switch something with my ticket-order for the play, I told the man on the phone I had my card ready and could read off the numbers to pay the fee as soon as he was ready, and he laughed and waived the fee, saying, "I'm not charging you five dollars after you traveled six-hundred miles to see this." My soft-spoken cab driver kindly answered a bunch of my questions about Fenway Park on the way back to the airport at the end of my visit. So many kindnesses. And Cheryl gifted me with a rainbow-striped pen for my writing. :) And Lisa paid my admission to the Paul Revere House. :) It felt like the entire city--all the people in it, all the pretty and well-kept grounds, and even the perfect weather--knew what this trip meant to me and sweetly conspired to make my visit as beautiful as possible.
And the play was beautiful, and I cried watching it as I do while reading it. I eventually mailed my former English professor a postcard from the airport to let him know I'd finally seen it. :)
Much too soon, I was again flying over ocean and islands on my way home. I don't know what part Boston is destined to play in my life, but it's captured my heart. I'd only been home about twenty-six hours before I'd booked a flight to return this fall. ♥ (Most of this trip's budget was still unspent when I got home and thus went to the start of visit #2's.) Until October, Boston, my love!