dear boston, we have some talking to do;

i’m all about honesty. i find that i can’t get things out of my head, unless i am able to mentally unpack the less-than-happy-instagrammed-version of my life.

because not everything is able to look nice under the “nashville” or “walden” filter. and sometimes it’s nicer when those things aren’t put out of focus in order for the sole purpose of looking nicer to the outside world.

boston and i have been on the out-and-outs lately.  i’m not sure if its the realization that i’m not really a city girl after all. or rather, there is a dissonance between my perception of this city as an outsider and as a resident. or a muddled combination of the two. but i know with a startling certainty that my time in this town of beans and blank-staring people on the subway is limited.

i first had fuzzy feelings about living here when i was eight, something someone should question when moving somewhere. i remember i was watching the first episode of “survivor” and elizabeth hasselbeck was being filmed as a contestant pre- “the view” in her hometown of boston.

they had a helicopter shot of her standing on a bridge (which is odd, because i’m sure its the one i cross with my bike everyday) and i remember thinking “i’m moving to that city when i’m a big girl. i’m doing it.” and “gosh darn it, i want a grape popsicle right now”.  she was smiling and it was sunny outside and i could only imagine sunny and happy days and winning a million dollars on reality tv in this fabled city i had just seen for the first time.

and i guess in the midst of being 21 years old in a now-foreign city where i don’t enjoy $145 handbags and scowling, i feel a bit like i was lied to. when i first moved here, it was almost eery how amazingly the city seemed to roll out a fancy, ornate carpet for me to walk on. i had a kick-ass apartment in fenway. i started dating a boy a month after i moved here. i got my two dream jobs. i was making friends and wearing peasant skirts and clogs and getting free food out the wazoo and petting puppies and not caring that i was so broke and eating ramen every other night.

and then all of a sudden, i got dumped. i moved into a less than ideal apartment with a less than ideal roommate. i was forced to quit one of my dream jobs. i was biking 16 miles a day in order to take 8am classes and then close at a job i was slowly starting to resent. my dog died+ my bike and phone were stolen all in the same month. i had to manually end a friendship that turned sour very quickly. in short, the city seemed to slowly roll back the ornate carpet it had rolled out for me. all of a sudden, without warning, and didn’t show signs of coming back anytime soon. the city wasn’t a good place for me in this time period, not a very soft cushion to soften all of it down. a scowl on the subway could unravel me entirely.

i’m not a person who is emotionally affected by weather shifts, but it seems that common courtesy, “excuse me”s and door-holding is seemingly forgotten once the temperature dips below 40 degrees. i’ve slowly become a person who is shocked when people are nice to me, rather than expecting kindness, something that honestly disturbs me sometimes. my most commonly used phrase during the months of december through april was, “man, boston sure is on the rag today!” 

despite all of this, boston has been a dream actualized. i know i wouldn’t be a content human being without living here for the last 12 months. but i’ve now realized that cities seem colder to me, not in the sense of weather, but in the sense that most sentences that float around the city start with the word “i….”, laced with entitlement, tied up neatly with a bow of expecting to come first at all times.

maybe it’s me that needs to grow a thicker skin. or perhaps the city and i could meet half-way and get back to that sweet spot of luck and free food again. because gosh darn it, burritos and cookies always taste better when they are free.

even so,  i’m still holding out for that richly adorned carpet to come back. perhaps it just needs to come back from the cleaners.


9 thoughts on “dear boston, we have some talking to do;

  1. Very honest of you, dear Mackenzie. City living is not all shining lights and non-stop fun. It’s not surprising that you’ve come to this point and you’re feeling slightly jaded. There definitely are downsides to an urban life. But make no mistake that city living still offers endless opportunities, and these include chances to fall in love with it again. You’re a very brave gal to venture to Boston on your own and I don’t doubt that life will reward you endlessly. You have my word :).

  2. Appreciation vs Expectation – that will get you through while you plan your next adventure or your next move. Check out the travel section at a book store or library – and then daydream or actually plan the big move there.

  3. Move to my little hometown and I’ll put you up in the adorable pillow filled sky blue attic of my happy communal house and feed you peanut butter cookies warm from the oven and braised kale and eggplant from the garden and we can make art and read books and be the coolest people around!

  4. You know, this is definitely a city thing. But I think it’s also a northeastern thing. When I went to Indiana for the first time, I was so weirded out that strangers I passed on the street would say, “Hi! How are you?” I consider myself a nice person, but I am sure visitors from elsewhere don’t think so. =)

    In any case, your self-reflection is great. You’ve done something you needed to do and are able to move on. That’s what life is made of, no?

  5. I hear you here, for sure. I think I’ve either a) gotten used to people not being very friendly or b) have fallen into the trap of simply “keeping to myself” whenever I am going anywhere.

    I rode my bike to Starbucks in Arlington the other morning and had the nicest conversation with this woman sitting outside. I loved it afterward and thought to myself, that was so nice, this must be what living in a real neighborhood is like. Now I realize I need to get out more in this said neighborhood and start being friendly to people! Then, I need to start spreading that friendly-ness to Cambridge and Boston as well.

    You came here, though, to this city, and from what I can see you’re rocking it. You take more advantage of things than anyone I know, so you should be proud of that. When the day comes for you to finally move on, I hope you will smile at all the amazing things you’ve done/seen/experienced. Even though this city has given you blank stares and scowls, I hope (and think) it’s given you beautiful memories as well.

    Hopefully your summer road trip will be a nice break from the BEAN!


  6. I know exactly how you feel, well regarding the cities being colder and all that jazz. I’ve finally felt adjusted this past year to Boston and coming back to HK has been a struggle. Being in Boston AND going to Emerson gives you a totally different perspective on life and our goals in life then in a city. It is scary because it makes me re-evaluate where I want to be after I graduate.

    Can I join you on your adventures this coming year please? You’re a rock star.

  7. Pingback: ivy-covered life, a playlist; « whatever, gatsby

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