Shippin’ Up to Boston

Hey there, remember me? I’m back. And guess what? I went home last week for the first time since moving to Hawaii. I hope you folks like hearing about trips to Boston! I promise next week we’ll be back in the tropics, but for now let me regale with you stories of my homeland. Before we get into anything more serious, one of the the things I quickly realized I missed when I got there, is Boston radio. This came as a surprise to me. If you’d asked me before I left, I would have told you most of the good radio stations had shut down in the past two years. After living without those remaining stations for the past six months, I realized how good I had it. In Hawaii there is one rock radio station, which alternates between new indie hits and some truly terrible modern rock. I missed my mix of 90’s favorites and good new music. To properly set the mood for this post, hit play on this Boston Radio mix, which was carefully crafted by yours truly based on the best of what I heard while I was home.

So let’s begin at the beginning. This transition hasn’t always been a smooth one for me and in the weeks leading up to my trip I was feeling mighty homesick. It’s hard to explain the abstraction of homesickness. I knew I’d miss my family and friends when I left, but I didn’t expect to long for the comfort of my old life. Mainly because that was exactly what I was fleeing. I left looking for adventure and something different. I wanted out of the suburbs, out of my comfortable job, and I wanted out of the 30-mile radius where I’d spent my entire life. As time went on, though, I got homesick.  I missed my stuff. I missed my house. I missed the cozy feeling of curling up in a blanket on the couch in my basement. I missed everything. By the time September rolled around, I was SO. READY. to go home.

Then I got there.

It all started innocently enough. My parents met me at the airport with a “Welcome Home” sign. My mom tried to get through to meet me at the gate. (anyone who has ever met my mom is now thinking “Of course she did!”) but the only way to get through is if you’re meeting a minor, which she almost lied about. I bet no one is wondering where I got my rebellious nature now! Immediately after this adorableness, we got lost in the airport parking garage (because Boston). My dad promptly lost his mind and my mom wondered aloud what was going on while telling him to go in two different directions. Eventually we reached the actual road, and instantly this meme was never more true.

boston

We were greeted in the customary local fashion: beeping. SO. MUCH. BEEPING. Of course I remembered people in Boston are angry drivers, but I guess I just never really noticed it the way I did coming from someplace new. People in Honolulu deal with the third worst traffic in the country and no one beeps. No one yells. No one feels the need to flip everyone off. They just sit there, crank the radio, and deal. For some reason Bostonians need to share the rage. To me this represents so much more than just driving. It’s the whole Masshole attitude, which pins some sort of sick pride on being rude to people. The whole week was a lesson in observing absurdly wide social boundaries. I’d forgotten the whole Northeast social code. Once I even smiled as I passed someone on the street! Of course, the other person looked at me like I’d just escaped the asylum and I was immediately self-conscious. I was so busy missing the food and the intellect of Boston, that I forgot how unpleasant its residents can make visiting.

Luckily, I had a built-in network of family and friends to welcome me home. I stayed with my parents, which I hadn’t done in about 10 years. They have all my furniture so it was a weird combination of enjoying the comforts of home, which I’d really missed, and a throwback to 2000. It was actually a lot of fun. I missed my parents more than I’d anticipated. I had a wonderful time visiting with my in-laws the first night I was there and I got to spend the rest of my trip seeing friends. One of my closest friends, Daryl, gave me some great advice I managed to completely ignore. She said her brother (who lives in Chicago) had learned it’s exhausting to drive around trying to see everyone while he’s home so he just tells people he’ll be in town and they can stop by if they want to see him. This is advice I should have followed. Instead, I took a tour of the entire state of Massachusetts trying to see everyone I know. I had tons of fun, but as you can imagine, I was indeed exhausted.

Sunday was Daryl’s wedding, the reason I’d flown halfway across the world in the first place (you’re welcome). It was a wonderful celebration and I can’t think of two people who belong together more than her and her husband, Ryan. The location was beautiful, the food was great, and the DJ rocked (full disclosure: he’s a friend). I drank too much (but not as much as Ryan) and I danced way more than usual. Seeing one of your BBFL’s get hitched to someone she loves, and that actually deserves her amazingness, makes a girl’s heart swell.

That night I was just so happy to be in a room with people I cared about so much. I know everyone says it’s hard to make true friends when you move somewhere new, but it was more than that. I’ve met a few friends here I think will develop into real, lasting relationships. It’s more the feeling of being surrounded by people you know inside out, and they know you the same way. There is a natural comfort and sense of self I haven’t felt in a long time. In this place, in this state, were my people: six months ago, six years ago, and sixty years from now (longevity permitting). I love these people and they love me in a way that’s only possible when you learn a person’s lumps and bumps and shining moments.

The most emotional moment of my trip home actually came when I went back to central Massachusetts. Back to my house. The rest of the trip had been about people, this was visiting my former life. We rented out our house and the renters graciously agreed to let me come by for a visit. I started tearing up when I passed the sign for our exit on the highway. If it’s possible for your heart to soar and sink at the same time, that’s what happened when I saw the house. I was flooded with memories and feelings I didn’t really expect. I guess a place gets under your skin after six years. It was weird seeing another person’s stuff in my house but not nearly as weird as just walking around it myself after so long. I was obviously nervous because 90 percent of my pictures of the house are a blurry mess.

The whole experience of returning to Massachusetts after six months away was strange. When I got to Boston, it felt like I’d been on a long vacation. I was so excited to see my favorite places: Cape Cod, Worcester (it grows on you), Brookline Booksmith, Cupcake Charlies, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s. I missed so much about my home. But once I got back to Honolulu, I realized there was just as much I’d missed about this place. I guess that’s the experience of calling someplace new home, but it’s a new one for me. Boston will always be my home and I’m grateful for that, but coming back to Hawaii felt like home, too. This trip provided some much-needed perspective. It’s like my mind could finally accept this as my life. I finally feel settled. For this, and all the wonderful memories from my trip, I am endlessly grateful.

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