About two months ago, I made an impromptu purchase: a plane ticket to Boston. While visiting had been on my mind since the day I left, I had planned on waiting until at least the spring to return. I figured that would give me time to save money and hopefully guarantee better weather. A quick glance at the Southwest Airlines website on a Tuesday morning changed all that, and twelve hours later, I had a plane ticket waiting in my email inbox for a trip three weeks later. What can I say? I can’t pass up a good bargain.
In the few weeks leading up to my return to Boston, my mind was constantly preoccupied with how it would feel be in Boston again after six months of being away. My heart was so nervous and excited to be back that I hardly knew how to feel.
The last time I’d seen Boston was a perfect summer day almost exactly six months prior. The sky was unspeakably blue with puffy white clouds. The bright August sun shone down on me and the crowds at the Boston Common created a familiar backdrop. I was drenched in sweat, tears, and emotions, as I hugged my community members goodbye and walked from our house to the T one final time. This day still feels both like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
One thought kept coming back up in my mind as I pondered all of this: leaving Boston once was hard enough. How will I do it again? It’s was tempting to think that maybe it’s easier to stay away sometimes: to not go back, to not continue to forge bonds and relationships, to not continue to find reasons to be in love with Boston.
But obviously, I went back to Boston. And how did it feel?
It was unspeakably wonderful be reunited with so many people and places and memories that I hold dear. Because of that, there were moments twinged with regret where I questioned the decision I made last summer to leave and go back to Missouri–that split second when I just knew what I needed to do.
However, perhaps most striking is what I didn’t feel. After my initial arrival (and the correlating extreme excitement), I didn’t feel much of anything but a sense of normalcy, of comfort. Boston felt like second nature, like I’d woken up and six months had slipped by overnight.Being back was walking to Casserly House in the mornings, breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts, lunch with S. Nancy and Jim, continued conversations and relationships with ESOL & After School students, falling asleep to the sound of the commuter rail rattling the windows, reversed Casa Taj water faucets, wandering around the city, picking up with Maggie, Abby, and Kateleigh exactly where we left off, continuing to watch every movie ever set in Boston, and going to mass at St. Cecelia’s and making a stop into the Starbucks across the street after. It was all of the routines and memories and people I spent a year cherishing.
Maggie and Abby drove me to the airport to fly back to St. Louis, and we took a rather meandering route by the Boston Common, across the Charles River into Charlestown, over the bridge back into the city so we could see our favorite view, and then to the airport. Every speck of that city is sprinkled with memories for me, in the best possible way.
And now? Now, the last time I saw Boston was a snowy February day. The wind stung my face, and snowflakes got caught in my hair. I still left with hugs and a few stray tears, but with a new sense of who I am, what I love, and gratitude for the city that helped shape me.
See you again soon, Beantown. Love always.