Columns, Opinion

WHITING: This side of paradise

There is a certain quiet energy about Boston that keeps me coming back to it, even though my relationship with the city resembles a very rocky, Nora Ephron-esque love story — that is to say, an almost incomprehensible relationship, one that involves a very warm and welcoming Beantown and a very begrudging me, but one in which said Hub ultimately wins me over to the point at which I can’t, it would appear, seem to pull myself away.

My state of “begrudged-ment” is entirely justified, however, given that I just spent a year with London and Paris with intermittent flings with Spain, Scotland and Santorini, to drop a few names. I’ve been frolicking around with artists and fashion students in Shoreditch, eating lots of falafel by the Seine and drinking only the chicest of mojitos in Barcelona. So naturally, a beer in Allston seems unexciting. And yet, here I am.

It seemed, therefore, as I got in a white cab at Logan and told the driver I was headed to Bay State Road like I was that forlorn and confused lover returning once again after a long soul-search abroad to rest in the arms of her steadfast and oldest, most intimate companion … if only to finalize things, but still.

Flying into Boston is always the same story: you share the plane with Harvard hockey players and have a Dunkin’ iced when you land and make your way to the baggage claim where, while you wait for your oversized luggage, you can peruse and memorize the altogether un-confusing and pathetic-looking MBTA map on the wall (after navigating the Tube and le Métro and finding my way around Venice, the T seems rather small) before debating paying a cab or attempting the Blue Line. It is not like flying over Manhattan, or even like taking the train to Brighton or Île de Ré.

But as South Station gleamed in the late August sun, and I felt the warm breeze out the taxi window as we passed by signs pointing to the Harbor, to South Boston, past the bridge, the boat houses and the stretch of the sun-glossed Charles River en route to Boston University’s campus, I couldn’t help but feel, especially as my roommate waved out the bay window upon my arrival at our brownstone, that although I would be deleting the foreign cities’ numbers from my phone, I’d arrived exactly where I was supposed to be.

I am a seasoned veteran of packing and unpacking, of storing, of changing my mind and moving in and out of many different homes. I left Europe for some very good reasons. Londinium and Lutitia of the Parisii ask a lot, and as a senior the fleeting nature of my collegiate youth is no longer an abstract concept to me. I may have fallen in love with St. Germain, but for the time being I’ve chosen the College of Arts and Sciences, the Writers’ Club, Sweet cupcakes, and late nights with Charles Shaw and Joan Didion — I’ve chosen this side of paradise where Josh Howard spends Friday nights making butterbeer in Superman pajamas and Kubs turns on strobe lights to dance to Madonna and an old lover’s cigarette smoke lingers on the fire escape while I drink tea and ponder what on earth Dryden could be trying to convey about literary criticism.

I have eight months left of crisp Autumn air on the river, of the dense smell of used books in Brookline, of broken Goodwill lamps and tables, cheap wine and costume parties. Eight months of pavement I’ve walked a thousand times before to brunch at Trident, to Church or to the frat party where I met that one boy, of brick buildings that house mistakes and memories and new students who don’t know I lived there. That really isn’t much time to savor the sleepless nights that occur for reasons academic or otherwise, the unclean bathrooms and the Sunrise Sandwiches with Marit at Espresso Royale.

Perhaps it is the influx of students, and of boxes and moving trucks and new bikes that constitutes the first days of September in Boston that sparks a thrill that stems from my insides and forces upon me an overwhelming sense that the old red bricks around me are brimming with possibility, and the shade of the green leaves on Marlborough Street is like, kissing me, really happy to have me back.

Or maybe it’s just the knowledge that within the encapsulated and temporal four-year stretch that is college, the rich and untested newness ahead of me in this last year promises as much adventure as any weekend trip to Rome or fashion show in London or Wiener schnitzel dish in Berlin. Hopeless romantic that I may be, something hopeful brings me back to the people, the things, the literature and the Bostonian cobblestones that throb with rich histories, interesting subjects, and pave the path of many beautiful, familiar people.

Anne Whiting is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a Fall 2012 columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at [email protected]


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