My Weekend at (Actual) Home

Although I love spending time at my Boston “home,” there’s nothing quite like coming back to your hometown and spending time with family and friends. As soon as I could, I had planned a long weekend back to Virginia at the end of September – partly to get my fall and winter clothes and figure out how to move up the rest of my stuff, and partly because America’s First Region is a rockin’ place to be and I (usually) genuinely enjoy it.

The mini-vacation was pretty much perfect: about 4.5 days spent sleeping in, reading, watching TV, and enjoying time with my best friends who still live in the area.

Including a shopping trip with this lil' lady wearing one of the most attractive dresses either of us had ever seen.

Including a shopping trip with this lil’ lady wearing one of the most attractive dresses either of us had ever seen.

A few very important things also came to light. While going through boxes of my belongings, my friend Jenny and I stumbled upon my old elementary school yearbooks and delighted in finding the photos of our friends, namely this classy broad:

Luckily she's married now, so you can rest assured that she has found love.

Luckily she’s married now, so you can rest assured that she has found love.

We also discovered, while flipping through my 4th grade yearbook, that I literally cut out the picture and name of someone a grade older than me. Who did I obliterate with such a vengeance?! We cross-referenced it with my 3rd grade yearbook where I cut out this lad’s picture again but this time left the name. I have honestly no memory about why I cut out this person’s picture (who I knew well in high school, but have no younger memory of him). Was it hate or love? As Catullus says, “Odi et amo.  Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. Nescio. Sed fieri sentio et excrucior.” Amirite? (I’ve really just been looking for an excuse to include Latin in my blog, you guys. But it’s true.) Either way, I was clearly a very passionate little kid. I also violently scribbled out the names of my enemies and starred my friends. Even back then, I was apparently keeping a Grudge/Revenge/Dead to Me list.

Most importantly, I got to spend some lovely time roiling about in confusion. I naturally vacillated between the feeling of utter contentment in this home of mine and fear that I would crumble when I returned to Boston, and excitement about getting back to Boston and continuing to unpack my life and get everything set up. I am well known for taking transitions poorly; when I went to music camp for the first year (I AM SO COOL), I had such a nervous breakdown after the first week my parents had to bring me home. To be fair to me, I was only 12 and went back every year after that for the full length of time, but still. I’ve had many other instances since then where I have struggled against changes in my life and wanted to go back to what is familiar. That’s why I have been so surprised at my relatively smooth life I’ve established in Boston – no nervous breakdowns yet! (minus one in the middle of the Boston Commons, but that was partly related to TJ Maxx and hanger). I don’t know if it’s because I am lucky enough to have good friends who live there, I’ve moved so often and I’ve grown up enough to handle it, or I’ve spent so little time in one place for the last year that I’ve fooled myself into thinking it’s only temporary. Either way, I’m nervous as all get out to go back and see what will be different, and if I will be different.

Nothing to do but just jump in though, right?

If only I could bring the Gabsters...

If only I could bring the Gabsters…

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My Weekend at Home

I recently spent a weekend at what I secretly consider to be my “home” in Boston. Yes, I have my own home (both the one I physically live in now and the one my parents inhabit), but we all have those places that we consider to be our comfortable little oases that allow us to escape from real life for a bit. I absolutely consider my house in Virginia to be one of those oases, and I recently bumped up the house of my good friends here to be another.

This will probably surprise them since I haven’t told them how much I adore being at their house, but it is the perfect mix of physical comfort and emotional support for me (both the house and the people within it). When I first arrived to Boston, this was the house that I slept in for my initial three weeks. And it is a wonderful place to start: gorgeous, sun-drenched apartment with a balcony and all the comforts of home (including CABLE! A rarity for twenty-somethings). I loved coming back to the serenity of their home, talking with them about my day and sitting down in front of the TV to watch Jeopardy. It immediately felt comfortable, and comforting to someone in the turmoil of a transition. I am exceptionally fortunate to have two wonderful friends of mine living there.

Alas, it is apparently not really acceptable for someone not involved in the relationship to live with a married couple. Even though we make an exceptional team. And so I reluctantly moved to a sublet in August (and had a meltdown a few days later in the middle of Boston Common, partially due to leaving my paradise), and then to my leased apartment in September. But due to a fortuitous series of circumstances, I found myself back at my little slice of heaven with two of my favorite people for the weekend sandwiched in between my August and September place. It was a bit of a stayvacation: I enjoyed a delicious meal of beef bourguignon, indulged in an IKEA shopping trip with Katie, and treated my hosts to a wine and cheese party. (This was entirely done because I decided I wanted to be fancy and have a wine and cheese party a la the incomparable Mo at Mocadeaux, and they were the only friends I could think of who would indulge me. And have cheese knives. That I gave them for their wedding.)

Not to brag, but this is why you should come visit me.

Not to brag, but this is why you should come visit me.

And so on that Sunday I once again packed up my belongings to move to a new house, away from my “home.” Luckily, I’m less than ten minutes walking away from my oasis. You can bet I will be there often to enjoy the calm and the company of my favorites.

It almost looks like they are toasting their concocting an evil plan, does it not?

It almost looks like they are toasting their concocting an evil plan, does it not?

My Boston

It’s taken me two months of living and working here, but I have almost, almost settled into what I consider to be my Boston. I had a heckuva start: I landed at Logan on July 7th at 8:30pm and started work the very next day. I first lived with friends, and then a month-long sublet, before finally moving into my apartment, where I can put pictures on the walls and flowers on the bookshelf. In celebration, I would like to take you on a pictorial tour of what I consider to be my Boston – my favorite places and what my daily life entails.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PLAZA

Every day, I am so grateful that my office building is next to the reflecting pool of this gorgeous tourist destination. Besides being a fantastic location in downtown (right next to the Prudential Center and a stone’s throw from Copley Square, Boston Public Garden, and Boston Common) it’s also a wonderful place to sit and relax. Every day that the sun is shining, you can find me outside at 1pm eating lunch and soaking in the rays.

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COPLEY SQUARE 

A five minute walk from my office and home to a wonderful farmer’s market Tuesdays and Fridays, this is a must-stop after work a few times a week. Exploring the local produce available, sitting on a bench, or even indulging in a little crusty-bread-and-goat-cheese picnic, it’s my recipe for Boston.

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BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Without a doubt, my favorite place in Boston. I’m easily here three-four times a week (largely because it is conveniently located on Copley Square!). The first time I walked in, I was a little surprised: I was definitely in a library (or so all the books told me), but it seemed kind of…. normal. Clearly constructed in the 1970s or a similar period of terrible construction tastes, it reminded me of my college library. I had heard rumors it was a gorgeous building, but I guess not?

Well, thankfully the next time I visited I entered through another side (the one facing the square) and realized, “OH. THIS is where the pretty is kept.” And so was born my favorite, favorite Boston reading spot – perfectly protected from the wind and the rain, serene and with thousands of titles just a few feet away.

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BOSTON PUBLIC GARDEN

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Garden, wouldn’t I? My normal farmer’s-market-visit to Copley Square will usually result in me wandering the few extra blocks of the Garden, sitting under a tree, and enjoying all that is around me. Also an excellent place to spy on wedding pictures.

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AND FINALLY… WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS.

I spent the last month mentally interior decorating this room and I am so happy that I can finally start putting everything into place. It’s still a work in progress, but my favorite part is genuinely the flowers on the nightstand in the mason jar.

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I guess the only question left is… when will you be visiting me?

One Year

One year ago to the day, I was living in London. I had arrived to find my apartment would be in a student residence hall flat, making me the lucky recipient of three single beds and residence hall issue starchy sheets (not that I am one to look a gift rent-free apartment in posh South Kensington in the mouth…).  I remember emailing my mother photos of my apartment to have her sternly reprimand me, “You need to put something on that blank wall behind your couch! Make it more homey.” She knows me as only a mother can; I am quite the homebody and I eagerly flip through the pages of each month’s Real Simple magazine, envisioning ways to embrace my inner interior design goddess self. In stores, I often find myself wandering dreamlessly down the kitchenware and storage solution aisles and contemplate the purchase of those teeny frying pans that contain the picture of a sunny-side up egg.

I have to wonder, why do I do these things? I could wax poetic about the ever-changing world and how we crave to create stability where possible. I may not be able to understand what my government does with my privacy, how my coworkers will take to me, or why it never rains when I prepare for the forecast by wearing my rainboots. But at least I can come home to a space uniquely mine, that I have created out of thin air, that is my source of constancy.

One year ago, I arrived in a place that would be mine for a short four months. Despite the length of time, I endeavored to create home where I could: I purchase cheap throw pillow, I put pictures up on the walls.

But four months disappear in a flash, and soon I was donating those throw pillows as I prepared for a life of travel in the spring. There is perhaps no less stable life than that of a traveler; I moved from guesthouse to hostel to hotel, sometimes staying for two weeks but sometimes staying for one night. Whenever possible, I unpacked my meager belongings into the dresser in my room, eager to find some semblance of home.

Now it is one year later from my little apartment with three beds in a basement in London. I have arrived in a place that will be my home – is my home? It’s difficult for me to tell if it is still to happen or if I am living it now. For someone so eager to find a place of comfort and solitude, I have still retained my vagabond ways. Even when moving from one temporary place to another before I arrive at my permanent (at least for a year) residence, I have added touches of me: picture frames on the nightstand, a comforter with a flower on it. I can at least claim this six square foot bed as my own, my place, my comfort. And then finally, finally, one year later, I will arrive in my home. I will buy a bouquet of bright flowers from the farmer’s market and place them in a mason jar on top of my bookshelf (all of these items are still imaginary, by the way). I will print out pictures from my travels and hang them on my walls – I’ve already perfectly pictured which ones will go where. I will fill my apartment with the smell of pies, and embrace being still for once. And perhaps then I will be presently present in my home.