Friday, March 29, 2013

Looking for Boston

"I was walkin' and talkin'
Bout this bitch I met out in Boston
Who I didn't see very often
But mmmhmm, mmmhmm."
-Scissor Sisters, "Shady Love"

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to know a city. Not just my way around it, but the culture of it, the attitude, being able to describe it like I would a good friend once I leave. Asheville, North Carolina is Southern with an indie flair, its gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains leading into hilled streets sprinkled with vegan restaurants and stores selling nag champa incense and OM bracelets. Los Angeles is modern and new, and it takes those ideas with it into everything that's created there--how can we make such contemporary art or gay culture or electronic dance music so modern while still revering our glittery Hollywood past? 

The Tobin Bridge, which I'm told is
one of B-town's defining landmarks
But I don't know who Boston is just yet. Maybe I didn't see enough of the cool, underground things that so many of my friends love about it, but I didn't feel a ton of its personality while I was there. I did my best the whole time I was there not to think to myself, "Oh, well, we have that in New York," because that's the curse, isn't it? That once you live in New York you compare everywhere to it, as if it's the holy grail of cities? I've actually prided myself on not doing that so far (see all of my posts about L.A. if you don't believe me!). But I found that difficult to not do with Boston. Boston to me felt like the accountant sister to New York's wacky conceptual artist gal: the wackiness may be, as far as my experience goes, anyway, under the surface, where New York's is a little more outrĂ©. 

For example, I feel at home walking in the New York streets in my leopard cardigan and red lipstick with my hair in a messy top knot and motorcycle boots on my feet, but in Boston I got stares. AP even saw a girl wearing a similar outfit and told me I should go be friends with her! I mean, obviously she has great taste, but you know what I mean? You can't say something like that in New York because you'd be walking up to everyone and making friends with them. Come to think of it, maybe I should do that from now on. But anyway. Boston seems a little more staid, not as openly quirky as New York. I kept waiting to find the weird, but I didn't see it. I would like to go back and find it though, maybe explore it with different people and see what 'their' Boston is like. What was nice is that it was definitely a relaxing vacation--Boston is a lot slower than New York. Which is interesting to say because I met a girl visiting from the North Shore of Massachusetts who said Boston felt very fast-paced to her. So there's that. 

Whattup Cambridge. Graffiti in Central Square.
One thing I really did like is that feeling you get from being around universities--you just feel a bit smarter, feel the intellectualism in the air and it fills you with an appreciation for the mind. Or maybe that's just me? But either way, there are tons of universities in Boston so you can feel like that everywhere! While I was bandying about near Harvard, I missed academia. I missed going into a class and learning about a new topic and having a professor who inspires me. I flirted with the idea of grad school, as I am wont to do these days. Incidentally, near Harvard I stumbled upon the adorable Grolier Poetry Shop, a store about the size of one bedroom in my apartment stacked floor to ceiling with only poetry books. 

If you touch this toe at Harvard,
it's supposedly good luck.
Also, I'm told students pee on it
because so many people
touch it, so have fun with that. 
Something else I really enjoyed is constantly being able to see the skyline. What is this "sky" business you speak of? You mean you can see the sun set on a regular basis? I also enjoyed that Boston is dotted with buildings from the Revolutionary period that are still standing. So, you know, next to Chanel on Newbury Street there's a famous, gorgeous old brick church (or something along those lines, you catch my drift). AP and I ambled through the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common, snow still on the ground though on its way out, its spring and summertime lakes drained for the moment until the warmer temperatures rolled in. 

One of the many statues in
Boston Common (well, part of it, anyway).

I also spent some time with SC in his hometown of Andover, about 30 minutes north of the city. Andover is peppered, super New England-style, with tons of old houses, some of them hundreds of years old, with delightfully creaky floors. One day the transit system screwed me over and we just hung out in town, but it was totally great! Andover is very suburban so, miracle of miracles, I went to a Target which I hadn't done in months (there isn't one easily accessible to me in New York). SC, his mother and I also went and had proper Cantonese Dim Sum at New China Pearl. I ate chicken feet, or Phoenix Claw as it's known, and nibbled at delicious bok choi, and an utterly amazing egg custard that I will try to find in New York at my earliest convenience. Egg custard, if you haven't had it, looks pretty much just like an egg yolk in a flaky pastry shell. It's creamy and sweet but very subtle. I had two of them. 

SC also took me to Epic Saturdays, a gay night, at the House of Blues in the Fenway neighborhood (so named because it's right next to Fenway Park). We even met Jujubee from RuPaul's Drag Race! I died and, having just finished my plague pills the day before (oh yes, I was quite ill for a week, but I chose not to write about it because who wants to read such things?), it was time for me to have a drink (or five). I danced with the gay boys and the straight girls and even a go-go boy a little bit. He twerked hard for his money, so I slipped a dollar into his shiny gold underwear, like a lady does. 

Boston Common serves snowy
spring park realness, hunty.
I was glad to relax over my few days in Boston, even though every day was packed with activity--seeing wonderful old friends and dashing about from city to city (or neighborhood to neighborhood? I'm still not quite clear where 'Boston' ends and other cities begin), exploring and getting lost in each of them. 

I also had the pleasure of making a delightful friend on the bus on the way in and out: I've always believed that the universe throws people our way for a certain reason, so when a young man sat on the bus next to me and turned out to be a dancer and a dance photographer (check out my work if you aren't familiar with why this is awesome to me), it wasn't messing around. AC is from Singapore and happened to be visiting New York for a few weeks, also going to visit friends in Boston. I don't know if I'd take the bus again, but taking it this one time was so wonderful I just couldn't chance a trip to be any better! 

So maybe I don't get Boston just yet, but that doesn't mean I won't or that I'm going to stop trying. After all, the universe hands us all kinds of experiences for different reasons. Perhaps the Big Bean and I will have a long and flavorful relationship, even though our first date didn't go exactly as planned. We shall see, kittens! Tomorrow is another day, and Boston is another town.