Boston is the 800 lbs gorilla in our household. In our marriage, it is the illicit significant other. Worse than any ex, its allure escapes my husband. Hearing its name leaves me with a wistful expression, and leaves him feeling incapable of making me happy.
Marriage requires sacrifice, compromise, and effective management (if not dismissal) of resentments. And anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of compromise. I choose sacrifice based on early intensive training in the “House o’ Martyrs”, where I reached at least level 7, hampered by an inability to through out righteous indignation when proclaiming a sacrifice. Above level 7, you simply look pained, not pissed.
Then, to further my romantic relationship, I relocated, and passed on to the next level of martyrdom. It wasn’t immediate, but it is my place now. Wistful expression, softening eyes, then a mad rush to change the subject.
Of all the sacrifices I have made (and I am also the sort to keep a list, bad janet), leaving Boston was the one that shook me to the core.
Not because I love dirty subway stations (although I do miss the public art on the Red line), or white cities, but because it was a place I made my own. Because it was where I learned I could talk (and stand up to) to anyone, regardless of how little our family had. And that I would be heard. Because 20+ years ago, it gave me refuge from the oppressive homesuburb, and allowed me to claim something else as home. (You figure it’s got to be bad when a catwalk at SFA feels more welcoming than homeroom.)
Over the years, I took some steps away from it, but always came back. Inhaling after getting out of Logan, I could always feel some tension slip from my shoulders. This was my city – ok, really the cambridge-somerville side of the river is what makes my heart go pitapat, but Boston and its total environs are a source of great comfort, not to mention decent pizza.
Most importantly, my friends, the most remarkable support system I know, are largely there. The women who threw not one but two bridal showers, and not one but two baby showers. The people who carried me through the melodramas of dating, and the vulnerabilities that follow the death of a loved one. The city with a coffee shop whose staff would not let me pay for coffee for MONTHS in the aftermath of a particularly ugly layoff. The city where I could not go anywhere without meeting someone on the street and hearing what was new in their lives. In recent years, it has also been a place where I was received as a conquering hero, or maybe just Auntie Mame.
Anyway, I leave on Sunday with a full dancecard. It will be good to return to the tute and see my altogether remarkable colleagues face to face. To make them laugh in familiar and welcoming surroundings. TO EAT AT THE BLUE ROOM!!! And then, in an effort to protect my loved ones, to return to Seattle without that wistful look.