As I sat in traffic, still stuck behind a turning green line train, still hearing the honking and verbal abuse I received for–what, exactly? Waiting for traffic to move like everyone else? Refusing to cut off the turn lane for oncoming traffic because our side of the road wasn’t going anywhere and theirs was? Anyway, as I sat there, all I could think was I have to get out of here.
Lately The Fiancee and I have had some hard conversations about where and how we live. They’re necessary discussions, but they’re hard to have because change and the unknown are scary, and inertia is powerful. And, I guess, because I’m stubborn and lazy, but maybe that falls under change is scary.
Here’s the thing: I love Boston. I love Red Sox games (as long as I’m not trying to drive anywhere). I love leaning to see boats on the Charles out the window of the red line. I love a dirty Southie accent. I love being able to disdain my alma mater frequently and in person when I show off the campus to out of town guests. I love restaurants and bars and towering home runs.
But is that enough?
One of the best things Boston has going for it is that I am already here. I have friends here I’ve known for more than a decade. My stuff is here. My cats were born here, as ridiculous as that sounds as a justification for anything. I play basketball every week with a group of amazing women, some of whom have now been playing together for more than twenty years. And I have a job that I absolutely love, one that I could honestly see myself hanging onto until I retire.
But I’m not from here. This city, this coast, this home is not mine. I grew up on a farm, among some other farmers, yes, but mostly just among country folk. Women who garden and chop wood, men who buck hay and drive pickup trucks. People who will always wave to you on the road because they know your father. People who will pull their sordid punchlines to shield the ears of children. People who yank their kids out of school on the first day of hunting season. People who will not hesitate to drive to your barn in the middle of the night to pull a lamb from a frightened ewe and gently poke its nose with straw to make sure it draws those first gasping breaths.
In Boston I can see a movie at midnight or close down a bar at two, but none of this fills my hollow heart. I’m tired of hipsters and frat boys and young professionals. I want to be around people who love and like earnestly, enjoying the things they enjoy just because. I want to be on roads where letting someone in is the rule, not the exception. I want to see mountains and creeks and the twitching ears of deer at dusk.
I spend two hours of every workday commuting. Two hours. All the NPR or sports talk radio or Walk the Moon cranked high enough to vibrate my shoes can’t drown out the sound of all the unhappiness and stress in those two hours. I drove almost that much when I was in high school, just to get to my little private school, but I never found myself at my destination with my brain still buzzing, steeped in all the reflex and rage of the road. This is why The Fiancee does nearly all the driving when we’re together–after two hours of commuting, I can’t be trusted not to swear and honk at everyone myself.
So we’re getting out of here. Not next year, maybe not even five years down the line. But we both know we don’t want to raise our children here. I’m not saying those hypothetical offspring need to have the same childhood I did–for one, I hope theirs has considerably less manure in it–but they deserve the same kind of community we had, and the same chances to feel mud between their toes. And as much as it makes me sad to admit this, Boston isn’t that community.