People get under my skin. Sarajevo got in my veins. Boston doesn’t escape my thoughts.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been wandering in the North End, the old Italian neighborhood in Boston. I actually visited the North End on June 11th, fifteen days ago. I’ve spent more time since I left Boston mentally walking along the streets of the charming and now yuppie-filled area of brick buildings than I did that moist afternoon.
I lived in Boston for my last two years of high school and I returned there two weeks ago for my high school reunion.
I can’t get the city out of my head.
That Thursday afternoon in Boston was my first day of rest in a long time. My mind and body needed to unwind. I had flown on a red-eye flight from San Francisco to the East Coast 1.5 days prior and hurried to Times Square in NY for a meeting with MTV and had been operating on little sleep.
Knowing I was not far from my dear North End, I exited the South Station train station in Boston and found myself unsure of how to get to my destination. Though I consider Boston as my second home, I hadn’t visited the city in five years, since my last reunion. I didn’t remember the street names. I found a large map on the street. As soon as I looked at the city layout, I knew where to go.
Around 4pm or so, I walked through the Haymarket and saw the vegetable and fruit sellers closing up. I wanted to find the underground passageway from the Haymarket to the North End that had copies of Botticeli and Modigliani paintings on the walls. I remember walking from the Haymarket with my friends Pilar and Makeda (on separate occasions) and admiring the frescoes. The frescoes were gone. The whole underground passageway wasn’t there anymore. Instead, there was a park. Disappointed with the new construction and landscaping, I walked into the North End.
Even though I hate licorice and anise, the aroma of anise biscotti coming from the bakeries was inviting,. The smell of the post-rain dew on the tree bark permeated my senses. Admiring the roses in Charter Street Playground, I recalled taking photos there for my Senior pictures with Makeda. With my glass of Chianti making its way through my brain, I was both a teenager and an adult at the same time. My smile never left my face. Meandering through the small streets and alleyways, I marveled at the inner courtyards and small shops. Though tour groups walked past me and yuppies carrying their yoga mats made their way to the yoga studio on the main street, I didn’t may attention to them. I was in my own little world and happy to be there.
Not only was I remembering how I first visited the North End as a 15 year old, I felt like I was discovering it anew.
Sometimes, I think it’s possible to both be in the past and the present and enjoy the feelings from both time periods. It’s when we are trapped by the past that we encounter problems.
I hope to visit Boston again soon and not wait another five years. It’s so fresh in my mind. Even though I am in my backyard in California with the fan blowing cool air onto my face, my mind is still partially on the Atlantic Coast.