Saturday, October 13, 2007

One Fine Weekend in Boston

And so both of my regular readers have given me hell for not posting since July 19th. Feh. I had nothing to say.

Not true. I had stuff to say, but I had no time to say it. And then, when I had time to say it, I forgot what it was that I wanted to say. I didn't want to list what I had for dinner, or how many times I'd stubbed my toe that day, so I blew off the blog altogether.

But now, I have a few quiet moments, and I had a great time in Boston last weekend with one of my "regular" readers--my son (Ell)--and with my daughter-in-law (Bee) and my granddaughter (Ess). They live there, and based only on my brief stay, I don't know how they will ever be able to leave that city. What a neat place!

So first of all, there's a beach to go to. I ran and played in the surf with Ess, and I never once gasped for air like I do on that god-forsaken eliptical trainer at the gym. It must be the salt air, or maybe it's running on sand. Maybe it's just having a great time with someone you love. Maybe you go into a different kind of flow that transcends any awareness of physical exhaustion. I did sleep well each night...

And then, there's public transportation. Where I live, public transportation consists a bus system in which the drivers must daydream a lot. They don't seem to make consistent stops, and they don't always stop for you when you are standing five feet into the street, waving your hands madly and jumping up and down like you have hot coals in your pants. If the bus system suddenly stopped in this city, I'm not sure anyone would notice for a good hour. In Boston, nearly everyone rides the "T" and busses. Public transportation is considered a god-given right, and BY GOD don't take it away from them! Here's how I found this out. I flew into Boston and took a bus to a subway stop so I could ride downtown to meet Ell near his office. We were going to get back on the T and pick up Ess at her daycare, and then take MORE public transportation to their apartment. (See how this works? It would take HOURS to do all of this via public transportation where I live!) Ell and I were on the T a total of three mintues when the train just stopped. We were stuck on a bridge on a stopped T. People began to grumble. Loudly. Then the train moved about a foot. Backwards. More grumbling. Louder. This was repeated about five times before we began moving forward again. We slowly rolled into the next station (not the one we wanted), and eventually found out that there had been a fire in one of the stations, that fire engines were blocking the path of the T, and that no one knew how long it would take to get things moving again. The Red Line and the Green Line were not moving. A guy sitting on our train started hollering, "This is BULLshit! This is BULLshit!" He looked like a homeless jogger; he was wearing gym shorts, he had a terrycloth band around his graying ponytailed head, and by the time he had worked himself up into a screaming lecture about the bullshittedness of what "the man" was doing to his public transportation rights, he had yanked the front of his T-shirt over his head so that his belly was showing, yet he still had sleeves. Soon, people started whipping out cel phones to call someone who might have some knowledge of what was happening on the outside. Then, a woman hopped onto our train and shouted, "My friend and I are going above to hail a taxi. We are going south. Anyone want to split the fare?" No one responded or moved. The woman shrugged and took off. Ell and I looked at each other. "Got any cash?" he asked me. "Yeah, wanna go?" We took off after this woman. We didn't know where we were going, what we were going to do, where we might end up, but it was better than sitting on that train listening to a crowded trainful of disgruntled maniacs.

But above ground was chaos. I didn't realize that a Red Sox game was about to begin, and apparently you don't fuck with Red Sox fans and the beginning of the game. There were people running in the streets, on the sidewalks, hailing taxis, walking, running. One guy (wearing a Red Sox shirt) was screaming into his cel phone, running in a zigzag through traffic up a one-way street. Sarah and Lisa (the woman and her friend who made the taxi offer) and Ell and I stood on different corners of an intersection, each trying to hail a cab. Of course, in all of the chaos, there were fifteen people ahead of us also trying to hail cabs. It must have been 30 minutes of cab hailing when an empty cab pulled up for us. Right--the cabbie spoke broken English, and he didn't know how to get to the JFK station. Sarah had to direct him through traffic. Lisa kept looking out the cab windows, saying, "I might be able to get out here....I think I know where I, I'm not sure. Ok, I think I know where I am! I can walk from here! No, wait..."

Here's another thing I've learned about the people in cities where there is an excellent public transportation system. If you dump them out in the middle of town, they have no idea where they are. They know how to get from one station to another, and they know where they need to go in relation to that station, but that's it. Dump me out in the middle of my town, and I pretty much know where I am. Of course my city is a fraction of the size of Boston, but my point is that I think I've driven on nearly every street in my town. I've even driven all the way across town taking nothing but alleys just to see if I could. I know so much of my city because I have to. When you have public transportation, you don't have to.

Traffic was insane. Ell and I got off near the JFK station, not really knowing where the hell we really were. We found out that the Red Line should be running from that station to where we needed to go. We hoped.

I had left the airport about 4:00pm. By 8:30pm, Ell and I met Bee and Ess in a Starbucks a few miles from their apartment.

So what else did we do? Ah, at the beach we rode a carousel and ate fried clams, we dined at a REAL Irish pub (the guys sitting behind us were speaking Irish), we went to Boston Commons and Quincy Market, we saw the end of a marathon, we walked a qua-jillion miles in downtown Boston (but it didn't feel like a qua-jillion miles), and Ess and I read Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein five times. (Ess calles him Seashell Silverstein.)

Ess informed me, after watching Hammy on Over the Hedge, that she can burp her ABCs. Really? I asked. "Yep! uuhAAAAAY! Beeeeee! Ceeeeee! Deeeeeee!" She got all the way to F, and we were each in complete laughing fits after each letter. By that time, I had to go to the bathroom, and while I was in there, I heard her laughing hysterially. Then it got quiet. Then more hysterical laughter. Uh oh. I opened the bathroom door, and Ess was hopping up and down. "Gramma! Gramma! I can FART my ABCs, too!" What an angel.

1 comment:

Candy Rant said...

DAMN!!! I coulda been reading Domhan 5 days ago! How'd I miss it! I love hearing about your Boston adventures. The clams, the beach, the pub, the multitalented grandkid. :)

When will you go back again?

YAY for a new post!!!