Rainbow unicorn toast.

Nose to the sky, we fly through the crisp December air splitting the clouds into millions of pieces.

This setting is familiar.

My legs sit on the plastic leather seat. Iced coffee to my right. The sky is painted with city lights that glimmer along the black horizon. A man made Milky Way.

Where are you off to?

I take the large headphones off my head and rest them around my neck.

Boston.
Well, duh, But I mean after we land. Boston, Boston, or like Worcester Boston? He inquires.
Haha, well, right outside. I’m on the red line. Does that count?
I guess so.

He asks me where my accent is.

I tell him I left it at Logan airport in September. I’m going to pick it up at Terminal A when we land.

He’s amused.

I snap a picture of the sunrise.

Have you ever seen one of those before?
What?
A sunrise.

He’s sarcastic, but so am I. I understand the language.

No, I haven’t. I’m hoping to share this phenomenon with my Instagram followers. Maybe make it on National Geographic or something.

He smirks.

It’s a smooth trip so far.

I tell him about the time I was shot 6 feet in the air on my way back from Ann Arbor due to severe turbulence.

6 feet, huh? And you lived to tell the tale?
I’m here, aren’t I?

He rolls up the sleeves of his black and red checkered flannel and scratches his 5 o’clock shadow.

The clouds remind me of unicorn toast. The rainbow clouds, like butter, are lightly spread across the soft blue sky.

I tell him about this comparison.

He tells me that the unicorn trend is dumb.

I nod in agreement. He doesn’t need to know that I follow a unicorn toast account on Instagram.

The ice in my coffee is melting. I tell him to stop distracting me so I don’t waste my $3.42 that I spent on this beverage.

Iced coffee in the winter, huh? You’re a true Massachusetts gal I guess.

We talk about our confusion with Wawa. Why do people love gas station food so much? It puzzles us. I tell him that I went to the new Dupont location and was overwhelmed and grabbed a Greek salad from across the street instead.

It’s refreshing to chat New England things with a fellow New Englander. I tell him this.

You flatter me.

I roll my eyes.

Haha, you’re right though. DC chat can be sort of exhausting sometimes, right? Like, I’m just trying to enjoy my beer why you gotta bring up tax reform?

I laugh. I can empathize.

We start to descend. 20 minutes until we land, the pilot tells us.

The clouds begin to break. I can see the ocean beneath us. I don’t fear flying, but my stomach turns ever so slightly when we are above water.

I close my eyes.

You can’t nap now. We’re about to land and you need to keep me distracted because I get nervous when I fly over water.

I smile and look at him. For a moment, I forget my fear of crashing into the deep depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

Me too.

The ice in my coffee is melted. I take a sip anyways.

Ugh, this tastes like pond water now, I complain.
Sorry, I think I have $3 in my wallet, but you’re gunna have to come up with the 42 cents.

How about you just buy me a coffee in DC?

It was like word vomit.

Did I just ask this guy out? What the actual fuck Beth. Here we are, two strangers casually chatting on a plane, nervous AF flying over the Atlantic Ocean and you just made it weird. Gr8. Awesome. Well done.

Suddenly, crashing into the deep depths of the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t sound half bad.

Coffees are more expensive in DC, he responds, that doesn’t seem fair.

I turn red and my stomach is still twisting — and it’s not because of the water. I snort out a laugh as a nervous reaction. I don’t use “snort” for literary effect. I use it to describe the actual sound that came out of my mouth.

How about this, he suggests, I’ll buy you a $5 cappuccino from some trendy coffee shop, but then you gotta pick up the $1.58 and get me a scone or something.

A scone? I scoff at him. How about a bagel? My stomach starts to feel normal again.

Fine. Just make sure they don’t overdo it on the cream cheese.

The wheels hit the runway and the plane shakes. I hold onto what’s left of my pond water. Coffee, I mean. At this point they are one in the same.

Which one is your bag?
The purple one. 
He points, this one? No way. Is this vintage L.L. Bean?
You bet it is.
Unreal.

We exit the airplane and he hands me back my phone. 603. A New Hampshire zip code.

My names Ben*, by the way, I don’t think I ever told you. Pencil me in for after the holidays. I hope Santa brings you a new duffle bag. You’re overdue. Merry Christmas, Beth.

Merry Christmas, Ben.

home

At times I wonder why I left.

I ask myself if “exploring” could mean a Southie apartment with friends or “taking a chance” has to mean uprooting the familiar and planting yourself in the unknown.

Continue reading home

To the city I left

People often ask me why I left.

It’s a question that is seemingly harmless, but often gives off the connotation that I simply ran away from it because I disliked what my old life had to offer.

I didn’t run, I moved on.

My Massachusetts paraphernalia is hung on my dull white walls. My Red Sox hat lies on my nightstand beside me. Pictures, t-shirts, group chats. My old city is never far, although sometimes it feels like it is.

I moved after I graduated, something many young twenty somethings do. There’s something about exploring a new area, making your mark on a blank slate. I knew there was something more out there for me, and I knew I couldn’t find that staying in the same place.

There are often times I feel nostalgic for the life that I used to be a part of. Times where I wonder if I made the right choice, if I’ll ever miss it enough to turn around and move back.

To Boston:

I miss you. I miss the irrationally confusing street map, the “pahks,” the aura you give off that makes it feel like home to any stranger. I miss the crushed peanuts underneath my Converse after a night at Fenway, the stickiness of Bud Light on my arm after a night out.

I miss the people, the sense of belonging to something bigger than what you are. I miss the nosebleeds in the Garden, the 90% chance of drunkenly making a new friend at a Bruin’s game.

I miss all of those things.

However, whenever I go back, I’m always reminded of why I left.

It’s not because I dislike you, or that my new life is significantly better than the life that you offered me. It’s because I know the attachment I have to every aspect of you will hurt my chances of ever seeing what else is out there.

I love my new home. I love the architecture, the hole-in-the-wall coffee shops that I stumble upon. My monument runs are tough to beat. Although the sport’s culture isn’t as enjoyable, it’s entertaining to watch people try to make that the case (Go….Redskins?).

Life here is more cut-throat, the people aren’t attached to where they reside. People come in and out, oftentimes not regretting who they step on to get to where they’re going. It has been challenging to adjust to a new life, but it’s the challenge I crave.

It’s the challenge that I new I needed to start my new life post-grad.

When people ask me why I chose DC, I never really know how to answer. I always had an idea in my head that we are “meant” to be in a certain city. That we are meant to find an undeniable attachment to a certain place. Originally, that’s why I picked DC.

I thought I was meant to be here.

I’ve come to find out that we are never really meant to be anywhere.

I’m attached to Boston. I’m attached to Cape Town. I’m attached to DC. And maybe someday I’ll be attached to San Francisco, Chicago, or Portland. I’m not sure. But why should we feel like we have to be tied to one area when the world is at our fingertips?

I don’t think I’m “meant to be” in one place. That’s why I left.

I didn’t want to leave, I had to leave. I had to find out what I was capable of, what my life could turn into without you in it. Many people stay with you forever, and I can’t blame them. Why would you ever want to leave a city that has been designed to make you want to stay?

Nearly 6 months has passed, and I have yet to say thank you.

Thank you for the all of the memories involving cheap beer, the wicked annoying sports arrogance, the faded letters on my keyboard from all the blog posts you gave me to write about.

Thank you for the in-state tuition at an incredible college, the group chat of 10 high school girlfriends that makes me feel close when I’m lonely. I could thank you for everything, and spend all night writing this but I’ll leave you with this:

Thank you for giving me the strength to leave. The strength to try out something new. The strength to dive into something unknown, the strength to leave you behind.

The strength to have the peace of mind that although I will always miss you, I can still thrive without you.

Xoxo,

Beth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two single people on the subway

I sat on the Red Line, my legs crouched up on the seat, sunglasses resting on top of my head. My back rested on the metal next to the end-chair and the germ infested hand bar. While seemingly uncomfortable, I was quite cozy with a book in hand.

The loud noise of the train made it hard for me to hear the Ed Sheeran playlist that played through my worn-out headphones, and each stop I looked up to ensure I didn’t miss my own. The T today wasn’t so bad. I was enjoying the silent vacancy of my train car.

“Next stop, Downtown Crossing.”

The train came to a screeching halt, and the empty car began to fill. I was no longer one of 3 others. I removed my backpack from the seat next to me, placed my legs back down on the ground. I had quickly lost interest in my book, my focus shifted onto the strangers than had began to fill the seats.

I looked to my right, a young couple in their mid 20’s sat down. The man had a long beard, the woman wore hiking boots with her hair tied back in a tight bun. She fondled his ear, whispering something that I probably didn’t want to hear, followed by silent laughter. My stomach turned and I looked across from me. A couple with scraggly hair, both wearing purple sweatshirts and ripped jeans. Her legs were sprawled over his lap while his arm rested around her back, desperately attempting to cuddle on the small metal chairs of the Red Line.

Gross. I thought to myself.

Next to the purple sweatshirt couple sat yet…another couple. They held hands, both dressed in business attire. I imagined they were the type of couple to leave their separate offices to meet up for lunch dates on the park outside of South Station (probably bought from one of the 100 food trucks). His hand rested on her lap, low-key PDA however it still screamed “She’s mine.”

“So, are you single?” I heard.

I didn’t know where the voice came from, as the train was quite populated by the time we reached Park St. I looked up from my seat and saw a man staring down at me. He had slick backed hair with an expensive looking suit. His leather briefcase brushed up against my leg as I glanced up at him. I took my headphones out and said, “Sorry, what?” even though I had totally heard his question.

“I can’t help but notice that you’re looking at all of these couples. So, I’m just assuming that you’re single.”

I was taken aback by this statement, unsure of how to react. Was he insulting me? Was he hitting on me? Or was he simply making an observation that was totally on point? I felt awkward, and I could feel my face turning red.

“Haha, um, ya I’m single,” I replied.

“Me too, and staring at these other couples is making me feel way more single than usual,” he laughed.

I had to agree. I’m content with being single, and I have enjoyed the freedoms that come along with being alone this past year. However, staring at all of these happy couples made me question if I actually enjoy being single or I just try to convince myself to avoid the emotional turmoil that comes with the feeling of loneliness.

This man told me his name, and we chatted for the rest of our T ride. He told me how much he truly hated PDA on public transport and basically snarked at the couples who were participating in it. I respectfully nodded, although it didn’t bother me all too much. I was suddenly curious about his relationship past.

“Did you just get dumped or something?” It came out like word vomit.
“Haha, um, yeah…How can you tell?”
“You seem to be a little bitter,” I inquired.

So here we were, two single people on a relationship-infested train car chatting about our dysfunctional love lives. It was oddly comforting venting to a complete stranger, and I could tell he felt the same. We were both surrounded by reminders of past lovers, and confiding in each other made it easier to cope with the fact that we were most certainly the minority on the Red Line that Saturday afternoon.

The train arrived at my stop, and I stood up and said, “Well, this is my stop. It was really nice meeting you, good luck with everything,” followed by a flirty smile.

“You too, Beth. Just keep in mind–someday you’ll be one of the couples on this train, I promise.”

I left the T and began the walk to work. I had never considered myself “bitter” to happy couples. Cute Instagram posts don’t make me cringe, and seeing a kiss goodbye on the street doesn’t make my skin crawl. My dysfunctional love life makes for great blog posts, and going on dates with different guys is exciting. I like being single. But, do I want to be in a relationship? I’m not sure. I hadn’t really thought about it until that Saturday afternoon on the T.

When we see reminders of what we used to be someone, it’s natural to feel bitter. It’s natural to wonder when it’s going to be you, when you’ll be worth it enough to someone. It’s natural to wonder if you genuinely love being single, or if your forced to deal with it because you don’t have any other choice but to accept it.

I don’t know if I’m ready to be one of those couples on the T, I don’t know if I’m ready for lunch dates at South Station or public transportation PDA. Perhaps I’m too selfish to settle at the moment, or perhaps I’m just avoiding the idea of a relationship that is seemingly so far out of reach.

Thanks, Tony, for making the label “single on the subway” not so bad. You’re a cool dude.

Why I’m going to tell you I’m from Boston, even if I don’t live there.

13.4 miles, a 16 minute drive on a Sunday morning (45+ minutes any other day). 11 stops on the Red Line to Park St., a $4.20 roundtrip CharlieCard fare. I don’t know the ins and outs of a Southie neighborhood and I won’t tell you to “pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd,” simply because I pronounce all of my R’s.

I may not live in Boston, but I am from Boston. 

I grew up climbing the ginormous jungle gym in the Children’s Museum. My mom would tell my sister and I, “I’ll meet you on the third floor.” I’d stay right behind my older sister as she guided me through the ropes and tunnels, eventually locking eyes with her once again a couple of stories up.

The ride on 93 North was defined by the gas tank striped with various colors and Big Dig billboards. I used to get car sick, so when we would get stuck in traffic, my parents would always tell me, “There’s the tank! We’re almost there!”

On the Red Line, I was always told to “hold on.” I never listened, and I would try to balance on my own despite the crowds and sudden movements of the train. This habit died hard when my 6 year old self wiped out onto a random man’s lap. He laughed it off, but I don’t think a day has gone by since then where I don’t hold on to the germ infested bars of the T.

Since my childhood years, Boston has come to mean more than a 200,000 pound fish tank and bronze duck statues in the Common. It has come mean more than hoping to catch a foul ball at Fenway to show off to my friends at school the next day or NSYNC concerts at the Fleet Center. It has turned into moments that you simply can’t capture. I can’t tell you what it feels like to spend summers cruising on the Harbor and watching the sunset reflect off of the Financial District until you actually do.

I can’t tell you what it feels like to be a part of such a strong community until you actually are. 

April 15, 2013 was a day that turned our worlds around. Things happened that we couldn’t quite grasp onto in the same way that we could a Stanley Cup win. We didn’t know how to understand it, simply because it was a poor man’s attempt to destroy everything that this city has come to stand for. He attempted to destroy our community and pride, and succeeded in destroying some people’s lives.

It was then when I understood why I tell people why I’m from Boston, even if I don’t live there. Boston has given me a sense of community, a sense of pride, and most importantly, a sense of who I am and where I’d like to be. The outreach of the community, the strength and perseverance of the victims’ and their families all gave meaning to the power of this city that has been such an integral part of my life for so long.

Marathon Monday is a momentous event in the city of Boston. It’s one that we celebrate other’s hard-work and accomplishments while simultaneously celebrating the strong community that we reside in. It’s day to remember where our pride stems from, why we are willing to spend that $7.25 on beer at Fenway. Most importantly, it’s a day to reflect on why you tell people you’re from Boston. 

This post is an ode to the people of Boston. To the police officers, fire department, the complete stranger that bought my coffee at Simon’s on Mass Ave last summer. It’s for the people who ran in the marathon today, and a post to remember the victims of the 2013 Marathon.  This post is for to the people who has made this city certainly one to miss as I plan the next chapter of my life post-grad.

The words “Thank You” don’t seem to be enough, but it’s all my QWERTY keyboard will allow. So, thank you, Boston. Thanks for teaching me how to be strong, how to grow from difficult situations rather than letting myself perish. Thanks for the countless memories, the photographs of me in front of the Green Monster, the restaurants in the North End that make for a great first date. Thanks for making me feel apart of something greater than my 30,000 person suburb.

Thanks for being you. 

Here are some inspiring links that are totally worth checking out:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/specials/boston_marathon_bombing_victim_list/

https://www.facebook.com/newday.newhope.rebekahgregory/posts/770673919715226

http://news.yahoo.com/boston-bombing-tsarnaev-richard-family-death-penalty-124134834.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/10/06/challenged-athletes-foundation-boston-marathon-clinic/2933505/

http://www.fastcompany.com/3028804/a-year-after-the-boston-marathon-bombing-one-victims-inspiring-startup-business-story

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/04/13/year-since-marathon-attack-richard-family-finds-strength-begin-moving/f7Rz2QWY7nDP12QFFwzPsM/story.html#

http://www.people.com/article/men-shoveled-boston-marathon-finish-line-blizzard

Rest in Peace to the 2013 Marathon victims and my thoughts are with you and your families during this time. You are truly an inspiration to all of us.