When I moved to Boston during the summer of 2008, I was absolutely charmed by this city. The richly textured and decidedly American sense of history, which twines between the crumbly brick buildings and winding avenues like a climbing vine, and the fluorescent, noisy student culture joined forces to knock my socks off. Boston was unlike anywhere else I’d ever been, and that’s saying something: I’m a third culture kid, which means that despite my American citizenship, I’ve spent almost my entire life overseas, hopping from country to country every two or four years. The sheer number of cities I’ve seen, between the places I’ve lived and those visited on family holidays, should have made me the most bored, blasé college freshman ever to strut through the hallowed halls of Emerson College. Instead, I was enchanted.
Part of that charm has to do with Boston’s size. I liked to pretend that I could walk from one end of the city to the other in a day if I had to. I knew better, but compared to behemoths like New York or DC, the only other East Coast cities I had any familiarity with, Boston was human-scale. Somehow, it was also large enough to keep me occupied and entertained, a paradox that baffled me. If hanging around Downtown Crossing and Faneuil Hall became dull, I could walk a little further to the North End or head in the other direction entirely and visit Newbury Street or walk along the Charles River. If I was in an especially adventurous mood, I could take the T over to Harvard and stroll down Mass Ave toward MIT, meander over the bridge and make it back to the dorms in time for spaghetti in the Dining Hall. I felt safe, but also challenged. Boston was the perfect place to start my life as an independent adult.
By the end of sophomore year, however, my romance with Boston had lost its spark. I was bored with mildly-bohemian adventures in Cambridge, bored with trashy parties out in Allston, and especially bored with Newbury Street, Downtown Crossing and Faneuil Hall. I ardently pined for DC, with its gorgeous, quiet, on-time metro system and plethora of museums, galleries, shopping districts, and concert venues, scattered all over the city like a gargantuan, sparkling scavenger hunt. I even cherished my visits to New York, where there is never a dull moment and always twelve things you could be doing that would be more fun than what you actually are doing. I assumed that Boston had nothing left to offer me. I waded through junior year, complaining to anyone who would listen about how done I was with this city, and how I couldn’t wait to graduate.
If I could reach back through time and smack my slightly younger self upside the head, I wouldn’t hesitate. Boston is so much more than I ever realized, and I’m only just noticing it. I had no inkling of the existence of the SoWa Open Market, a massive flea/vintage/farmer’s market in the South End, or Jacque’s Cabaret, Boston’s best-loved drag venue, right around the corner from my stomping ground, the Boston Common! That’s why the work that the Future Boston Alliance is doing is so important: the Boston of public perception is a very thin caricature, veiling the vibrant and diversely creative city I’m only just, after four years, coming to know.
– Rachel, FutureBoston Intern