Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beantown Reunion

I used to live in Boston, moved there right after college. Boston will always have a special place in my heart because it's where I first began what I consider my adult life.

I had a real job (that sucked even back then), financial responsibilities, and a bleak outlook for the future - all the things that go into being an adult.

I barely made it to Boston. I had to borrow five hundred dollars from a good friend just to leave campus. This paid for the car rental from Syracuse, NY, and provided some spending money until my job started. Based on my salary and expenses, it took me a year to pay back the loan, but I did it.

I always felt like an outsider in Boston. It was a place I could only look at but not touch. It was an expensive place to live. If I had five bucks at the end of each week, I considered myself lucky. So I, and my roommate Curt, spent a lot of time walking, biking or running through the city. If we were lucky, we would come across something free, like a concert at the band shell along the Charles or some street performers in front of Fanueil Hall.

I remember doing a lot of watching, especially in the posh downtown areas like Back Bay, the North End and Beacon Street. I'd walk by the high-end hotels and wonder what it was like inside. Occasionally, I would slip into The Four Seasons across from the Commons to use the bathroom. I always expected to be stopped at the entrance, but the doormen always greeted me graciously. I felt like I was pulling one over on them as I walked with purpose to the Men's Room.

These days I've had the the good fortune of visiting Boston on business trips. I've had the chance to stay in some of the hotels I used to pass by in my poorer days. While my company is paying for the room, it doesn't take away from the feeling that I somehow arrived. I feel a little bit richer, a little more nostalgic - but only momentarily.

This is a picture I took from my hotel balcony on a recent trip. I am looking right at Fanueil Hall.

It would've been hard for me to imagine back then that I would be standing in a hotel room looking out onto the city one day. And there I was, in an excellent location, in a beautifully appointed room. But yet, I still felt like an outsider.

While I was finally on the inside, I had no one to share it with. No one to relate my story of where I had once come from. No one except that couple who had been standing near the stop light for quite some time staring up in my direction. The woman now had her back to me, she was in discussion with the man.

What were they thinking? Did they look up at me with envy? Maybe they were young lovers smitten by the downtown scenery and warm air wafting in from the scenic harbor. Maybe they desired a room of their own, a bit of privacy where they could embrace and share each other if just for a brief moment.

And I thought, what if someone looked down from their perch onto me back then. What if this person had the power to play with dreams. What could have been?

That's when stepped back into the room and picked up the phone. I dialed the front desk and was greeted personally, like a real guest.

"I'm calling to report that two people have been harassing me from the street below. They have been staring at me incessantly. I wish to have them removed."

"Removed?," the front desk asked.

"Yes. They are disrupting my view."

"Please accept the hotel's apology. Security will take care of the matter immediately."

"Yes, that's what I expect. Now, step lively," I said and hung up the phone, and drew the curtains.

Ah, it's always good to return to your roots.


  1. You should have offered them your room, at least for an hour or two while you had your expense account dinner. Then you could have demanded maid service before turning in and laying your pampered head on your pillows.

    Remember from where you came and pay it forward!

  2. Step lively indeed !
    And hold on to that nostalgia...