I’ve never had a particular interest in kissing the cobblestone sidewalks of my Boston neighborhood (or any sidewalk or other form of masonry for that matter), and, yet, this is exactly how I feel during a security check before a flight from Washington, D.C. to Boston last week. It’s the last leg of a journey that originated in Seattle via Salt Lake City, via being stranded on the West Coast for several days by Hurricane Irene. While my fellow Bostonians, along with the rest of the Eastern seaboard, hunkered down, hurricane-partied, and went surfing, I passed time in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by sunny skies, majestic mountains, and lots and lots of Starbucks coffee.
Day-hiking a section of Mt. Rainier.
Friends back home kept telling me to enjoy it. The weather was gorgeous. The people are friendly. It was better than sitting around in the dark playing Trivial Pursuit by candlelight.
But I wasn’t so sure. I’m a native of Cape Cod and a Boston resident. And in both circles, inclement weather is a point of hearty New England pride. I felt like I was missing out. I recalled Hurricanes Gloria and Bob and the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991, which inspired local author Sebastian Junger’s Perfect Storm and, later, became a film starring Mark Wahlberg. What if I missed the meteorological inspiration of another Mark Wahlberg movie? I liked Seattle well enough, but I found a few things unsettling.
There’s no humidity, for starters. Once my clean wardrobe ran out, I laundered some clothes and laid them in the sunshine. They were dry within hours. That’s, at least, two days sooner than what I’m accustomed to in Boston. I could never fold and put things away that fast. How inconvenient.
Also, everyone is very nice in the Evergreen state, and this is worrisome. You may have heard that Boston was recently dubbed one of the rudest cities in America and the least stylish to boot. I’m not sure how one can feel a deep affection for people who are rude and poorly dressed, except if they are the people you love. This is my excuse. (It’s worth noting that I believe my loved ones are kind and infinitely tasteful, as I am sure you do, too. However, deductive reasoning—by the statisticians who measure such data—tells us this cannot be true. If we are an unstylish city, some of us must love or be among the pathetically unposh). We are an ornery and unfashionable lot in the eyes of people we do not know, who hail from cities whose sports teams we regularly trounce. You can tell this cuts me deeply–like the gaping hole left by this downed tree after Irene.
In addition to being nice, Seattleites are over-caffienated. Delightfully so! I never felt bashful about my gripping black tea addiction or lost for conversation with the locals. People love to chat in Seattle, especially in line for–you guessed it–coffee. You would too if you drank espresso year-round the way Southie drinks Guinness on St. Paddy’s Day.
There was also a Red Sox/Yankees series on the horizon. The Cape was beckoning me for Labor Day weekend. The city would soon be littered by discarded furniture for Moving Day (also known as Christmas in Allston) at Boston-area universities. How could I miss this!
I couldn’t. So, the airlines changed. Jet Blue couldn’t get me home for a week, and this gave me what I can only describe as genuine chest pains. (Panic attack?). The alarm went off at 3:30 AM. A circuitous day of travel was endured when it should have taken a mere six hours. My seatbelt was fastened. My tray table was up. Boston waited. And as the wheels of our airplane kissed down on the tarmac at Logan on Tuesday night, a broad smile crept across this ornery Bostonian’s face.
I wheeled my luggage over the cobblestone South End sidewalks and up to my front door right around the time that the first pitch of the Sox game traveled over home plate. I quickly unpacked and, again, did laundry. But I decided to leave my suitcase out. This would make it easier to pack for a final summer weekend on the Cape in a few days. Labor Day was approaching, and nothing would keep me away.