Being the calm (?!@%!), laid back northwesterners that we are, Ed & I were on the anxious side of curious to discover how people interacted in Boston. We assumed that all those tales we heard about crazy driving and the "fast-paced" east coast would mean that everyone here would be too busy or bothered to acknowedge--let alone speak with-- two rain soaked Washingtonians.
The truth is that Bostonians are geuninely nice. Everyone we've met- in our neighborhood or on the street in town- takes the time to have an engaged conversation, as if they had nothing else to do. And yet, at the same time, they gracefully end the conversation without any awkwardness. Bascially, people get all their daily "stuff" done here while simultaneously putting people first. It's amazing. This ability for folks to be genuinely interested in you, I have to admit, is a strange phenonmenon. Think about it, if you live in or around Seattle, people are good a small talk- but that's it. No one really wants to hear about how hard it is to balance work and parenthood or why you think you and your sister are getting along so well. You've got your friends (hopefully) for those conversations. To be honest, I usually could care less myself. Sure, I'll engage in a quick conversation about the weather at the local coffee shop, but I usually don't know what else to say because it doesn't really make a lick of difference to me if the weather was 10 degrees warmer or cooler than yesterday. It's almost as if everyone in Seattle has their 'stock' discussions- enough information that everyone could respond with a few words, and without being offended (or interested); but not so much information that you dared reveal any individuality, and (GASP) make a new friend. More and more, Seattle seems to me like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry tells Ramone (the pool guy), after Ramone's followed Jerry on his errands, "yeah, I got enough friends, I don't need anymore."
Am I crazy or what? Perhaps it's the west coast (or, more specifically, Seattle) that is distant, superficial, and, well, cold. The Seattle Times captured the Seattle Freeze phenonemon in a relatively recent article. Specifically, how easy it was for newcomers to make friends in Seattle. I gotta tell you, I lived in West Seattle for nearly a year (right on California - the heart of the neighborhood), walked EVERYWHERE, and made only one new friend- another mom who I met on Craigs List. I'm not suggesting that I didn't cultivate my own reserved personality, but there were many days when Ed was gone 15 hours for soccer that I would have loved some company- I mean, I was willing to chat it up with the woman on the street in front of our apartment building - the one who reaked of cigarette smoke, had the thinning figure of a recent drug-addict, and was either homeless or jobless (or both) since Jack and I would run into her at random times during the day. Anyone else who seemed, well, more like my stereotype: frazzled middle-class mom, seemed to be too busy with their own frazzled, middle-class lives.
We've been in Boston a little over a month, have been offered to be driven around to understand the city, been given half a memebership to BJ's (like Costco), invited to dinner with folks that we continue to talk with, and participated in a block party- one where nearly everyone on the block attended, only having been invited by a flyer stuck to their door. And, as I've mentioned before, on my first night in Boston, we met a woman and her family who invited us to her son's first birthday party - and we just met. That would never happen in Seattle. (By the way, we didn't go to the party and I've been terrible about getting in touch with her- call me frozen). I'm telling you, people are more willing to add new people to their lives here. So, thanks Boston. We feel genuinely welcomed.