My cousin has been nagging me for three years to come visit him and his girlfriend in Rhode Island. He told me he was not going through boxes of family pictures till I arrived there. His girlfriend did a follow-up call and told me she is sick of the boxes and to get my tushy to Rhode Island. Off I went.
I had lived in Rhode Island the summer after my sophomore year in college. I absolutely loved it. It was the first place I lived where I didn’t need a car to get around town. I lived on Transit Street in Providence not far from Brown University. I worked for a small uber liberal newspaper and I hosted at a family owned Italian restaurant where they served us dinner every evening before our shift began. To this day, the best eggplant parm I have ever eaten! The wife baked the desserts and the husband cooked the entrees. Bet you thought I reversed that by mistake. THAT was how it worked in their restaurant.
I walked to work. I walked everywhere except the beach in Newport. I took a bus to the beach. I walked to this funky street a block from where I lived on Transit Street. It was called Wickenden Street daily for coffee and this yummy oatmeal muffin and would sit outside and read my book. And then there was the train station that I could walk to easily from my home. The train would take me to Boston, New York, Philadelphia. It was a new world for me. I remember walking down these brick sidewalks and saying over and over again. I love it here. I love it here.
When I lived in Boston, I went to Rhode Island a couple of times to meet friends and family for dinner or lunch, but this was my first real trip back there in years.
My cousin Tony picked me up at the airport and drove me to his postcard perfect little neighborhood called Wickford. The houses lining the streets were very old. They were not far from the street. There was a house, a brick sidewalk, maybe some plantings and then the street. Beautiful old colonial homes and they were built almost on top of each other. I could have easily stuck my hand out a window and knocked on the neighbors and asked for a cup of sugar.
I took a shower ot out and looked out the window realizing that there was no cover on the top side of the window. I jokingly waved and said, “Hello, Neighbors!” Naked as a jaybird.
The next day, my cousin’s girlfriend took me on a tour of Jamestown and Newport. We had coffee in Jamestown overlooking the water and a regatta. I was like a pig in mud I was so happy to be back near the water.
The old towns, the charm, the feel and smell of the water. I was in bliss!
I ate one lobster roll after another. I ate oysters. We went to an ice cream place called the INSIDE SCOOP and I thought nothing compares to my Cincy favorite Graeter’s, but man oh man was it good. Mocha with oreo cookies in it. YUM!
My cousin and his girlfriend told me that I could come housesit when they travel and take care of the cat and the dog. I asked where and when I could sign up for that job.
I had a wonderful time. We never went through those family pictures. I tried, but we never did.
My favorite thing about my cousin is all his stories about our family. He lived with my grandparents one summer and he has taught me more about my granddad that I never knew. My granddad died two years before I was born. And cousin Tony has a lot of stories about him. That is always so much fun for me!
After 4 days with them, it was time for me to head back to my old stomping grounds in Boston. I had lived in Cambridge and Boston while going through graduate school and I was going back to see friends that I had not visited in SEVEN years. Guess how I got there? The train. Love it. Love trains. I am like a little kid that plasters her face against the window and stares as the scenery goes whizzing by her.
Again. Happy as a pig in mud.
I arrived in Back Bay station. I was getting picked up by my old boss Steve. He was taking me to lunch which ended up being Rebecca’s next door to the office. I usually would have been upset but I always loved there tuna fish salad sandwich.
We went up to the office and there was Susan who took my job. Sweet as pie. The other Steve the CEO of the company made a trip in to see me and Mark the goofy, but lovable partner who reminded me of a wacky scientist. And poor Bob the other partner was in the hospital getting knee replacements. We sat at the conference table and chatted for over an hour. I felt like I was back with family. It was wonderful.
I left them and tried to walk over the Salt & Shaker Bridge from Kendall Square to Beacon Hill but it was closed for remodeling. I took the T (subway for those that don’t know the subway in Boston is called the “T”) one stop to Charles Street. The T station there the one around the corner from where I lived was now new and fancy. I missed my old, rundown, T station. This one was glass and big, and fancy. Behind it was Mass General Hospital which also was not fancy when I lived there, but is now.
I raced over the walkways and down to the sailing club that I had belonged to when I lived there. I used to pay $200 to sail from April to the end of October, AND I could sail as much as I wanted. I didn’t have the heart to ask what it costs these days. But even that was rebuilt and fancier than I remember.
My old, dear friend Jim, who taught me to sail, who looks like a crusty, old sailor met me on the dock. We took out a 21-foot Sonar with two other gentleman. I forgot how magical it was to be in the center of the Charles River surrounded by the city and the skyscrapers and all you hear is the wind in your ears.
Harvard and MIT sailing clubs were practicing around us. The wind picked up and Jim handed me the sail. I was momentarily terrified. But it is like riding a bike. It does come back to you. I forgot some of the sailing lingo and how to tie some knots but those folks just giggled and helped me.
I wondered if I could move back to Boston. Would I love it again? Then I remembered the sun setting in the winter at 2:30pm in the afternoon and that is a bit of an exaggeration, but not a big exaggeration. And then I remembered standing on the platform at the Charles Street T in the dead of winter and the wind whipping through there and how I felt that cold down to my bones. I thought maybe I couldn’t go back. But again, I loved living in a city where I could walk everywhere.
My old boss Steve delivered me to my friends Heather and Noel’s home. The kids were so warm and welcoming. I left them to have dinner with my friend Bill in an outside cafe in the nearby town. I ate homemade pasta with peas and mushrooms.
The next day, I went with Heather to take her 2 year old Hazel to ballet. We were running late and running into road construction everywhere we turned. Heather shouted out OH MY GOSH! And little 2-year old Hazel in the backseat repeated. OH MY GOSH! It was hysterical. I hope Hazel doesn’t repeat what Mommy said at the roundabout near the Staples when that man cut her off.
Heather dropped me off down near Harvard Square so I could visit someone at the law school and walk through my old stomping grounds. She suggested I go to one of my favorite haunts for lunch.
I walked through Harvard Square up and down the streets, passing my old apartment building and laughing at the fact that I lived next door to where the buses went in and out of the Square. I passed the old movie theater, the Crate and Barrel I used to love to wander through that is now an Anthropologie. I walked through the Square to discover my favorite homeless guy in front of Au Bon Pain. He didn’t recognize me. But was sweet as always.
I went into the Harvard Coop hoping there was something I had to have, but nothing jumped into my arms.
I finally made my way to Mr. Bartley’s across from Harvard Yard. Heather suggested I go there. She said, She was too old to eat a burger, french fries and a shake. My body can’t handle it. Her body looked far better than my body. But I had not been in Harvard Square for seven years. I had the seven year itch. It needed to be scratched. The only way to scratch it was either Pinocchio’s pizza or Mr. Bartley’s burgers. Here I stood.
I went inside I sat next to two non-speaking almost identical looking brothers that looked like they could be sumo wrestlers. Yes, I ate more than them. Until the end, I convinced them to drink a milkshake. I did it with creative sign language. It wasn’t pretty.
The selection of hamburgers is vast. I was told to try the Viagra, but I just couldn’t do it. Instead I went for The People’s Republic of Cambridge, the nickname of Cambridge and the burger has Russian dressing and cole slaw on it and reminded me of a burger an old boyfriend introduced me to at another Harvard landmark called Elsie’s that sadly closed in 1995 and that burger also contained Russian dressing on it.
On my way out the door, I ordered a vanilla milkshake. They accidentally gave me a large one. Yeah for me. I sucked that thing bone dry down to the bottom in three short blocks. I forgot how amazing those shakes truly are!
I continued to walk and look at places that changed and that remained the same. Then I caught a bus to go meet a friend in Watertown for a drink and a chat.
I met my friend Jenny. I had met her ex-husband Bill the night before for dinner. The last time I was in Boston, they were married. Happily. The most happily married couple I had ever met. I told Heather they were so happy and her response was, “I am sure they were until they weren’t.” It was so odd and so difficult for me to wrap my head around so happy, so easy for them to be together to divorce.
I had this wonderful epiphany on this trip. I realized the reason I never got married. I wanted forever. I didn’t want 5 years, 10 years, I wanted 50 years and I never found someone that I loved that much that loved me that much to give me 50. I thought I did once, but I was wrong. Whoops. Glad I found out before the walk down the aisle. I just now know I wanted someone that was forever and ever. The good, bad and ugly. I know he is out there, but just not sure I will ever meet him. And that is okay, I will get a dog. He will cuddle on the couch with me and watch movies and share a bowl of popcorn. And I am sure I will meet “him” when I am 80, toothless, bald again, except for the excess chin hair and we will look across the nursing home at one another and it will be love.
I will tell you what I loved about my trip to Boston. I forgot what a great city it is, I have such fond memories of Boston, but what makes it so special is my friends there. I had not seen those people in SEVEN years and we picked up right where we left off. I will be friends with those friends till death parts us. I like my Boston friends. They are such good, kind, true friends. The best kind of friends you can have.
It was a great vacation. I was sad to come home, but I always hate coming home from a vacation. That is the wanderlust that lives in me forever.