Friday, August 24, 2007

On [Having Left Boston] - part 2

Jack is adjusting to the move better than either of us. He loves my mom’s big house and big yard and the extra attention from nana and papa. Ed and I are doing our best to get our classes planned and deal with all those boring details that come with moving across the country- like opening new bank accounts and finding a place to live. Done and Done. Now we just have to wait until the 6th of September for Door-to-Door storage to put our pods in front of our apartment building. Better the 6th than the 16th. And better Door-to-Door than A&G Vanlines, better known as fuck-you-up-so-much-you can’t breathe-because you have to choose between buying something to sit on or eat- movers.

One of the ways we know that Jack is adjusting so well is that his imagination is alive and well. He is constantly having conversations with any object – from the more obvious fisher price toys to the less obvious cell phone holders that have hands and feet (yes, they look like you imagine). He also loves playing with our cell phones, like any preschooler must these days. Jack’s favorite cell phone discussion mimics one he’s heard again and again.

“Hewo. Yah. I’m lost.”

Or, he plays the person on the other end.

(Hands pretending to type on a computer) “Okay, you turn right, then right then go stwait.”

You see, he’s acting out the majority of the phone conversations between Ed & me in Boston, which involved me, calling Ed from left-of-what-feels like-nowhere outside of Quincy, ready to personally embalm the lazy craps who decided that cow paths ARE a good way to plan city streets. When the phone rings, and Ed knows I’m somewhere new in the Boston area, he sits down at the computer, gets google maps up and ready, and answers, bracing for my Medusa tone. Jack has witnessed both ends of these conversations many, many times. Plus the ones where we are ALL in the car, when suddenly the tone shifts from chatty to silent and “what street was that?” mumblings. If the car ever gets too quietly tense, Jack immediately asks, “are we lost?”

I blame Boston. I’ve blamed Boston for the lost feeling ever since the day we moved. Driving in Boston and the greater Boston area is the most frustrating experience I’ve ever had. I cannot think of anything else that causes my blood pressure to rise faster – I lose all patience and turn into my evil twin. I wish I could show you what its like to drive there (though not with me), but the best way to explain it is to wake up early tomorrow morning, walk outside and look for a spider web. No, not the new, clean crisp one spun between your front porch post and roof, basking in the suns rays which reflect the glistening dew on the perfectly straight web lines. Turn your head to the one hanging off the side of the bush, half broken, hidden from the sun, where very few of the strands are touching and one or two three-day old flies are pulling on the few stands holding the web to the dark bush. Now, imagine that web on a map, that it’s the roads to a major U.S. city. That’s Boston.

It took me 18 of the 24 months that we lived in the Hub to realize why it’s called the Hub. All the roads circle around the center of the city. It’s why you can be driving on highway 95 and you will see two signs telling you which way you are headed: 95 South AND 93 North. (WHAT?!) Because 95/93 circles around the city, if you are headed north, eventually, you will also be heading south.

Before we moved back, all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to get on a road and know which way I was heading. Straight north or south. And, the ocean West, mountains East.

But, about two months ago, I realized that I was a big fat wuss. If I had just a bit more patience, I would have seen that the road system in Boston was, in fact, interesting. This came me after talking with a colleague about how writing is like walking through a labyrinth- where you walk a long distance in order to get to the center, but unlike a maze, the center is only part of the journey – you can be far away from your destination, or next to it, but all aspects of the labyrinth walk are just as crucial as the destination. All this time I’d treated driving in Boston like a maze, as if the roads were working to keep me from my destination. When, in fact, they were beckoning me to understand something more complex.

When I flew back for my second interview and was driving along I5 North, I realized that the difference between driving in Seattle and Boston is the difference between reading Dr. Seuss and Samuel Beckett. One is simple, easy to memorize, comfortable and, somewhat repetitive. The other is complex, hard to follow, and, for quite a while, frustrating, yet compelling. And, Beckett, like Boston roads, when you only start to think you might just get where you’re going with it, you get an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and feel, well, smart. I could extend the reading metaphor into how all the roads that don’t connect are like stilted prose that is woven throughout a deceptively focused play, but then I would sound like a reading and writing teacher, and I’m not paid to do that until September 17.

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