Preemptive Nostalgia

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I’m leafing through the stacks of law I’ve brought to the coffee shop to learn to give me an excuse to drink an almond milk latte, and I happen to look up. Such a perfect view…this crumbly old warehouse that, against that crazy sky, somehow looks like even its graffiti is art. It’s not a view I ever would have had before this whole experience…just so very “city.” So, so going to miss vistas like this when we’ve touched back down in the land of big-box stores.

And yet as I type this, some quintessentially Boston machismo has asserted itself in the street behind me. Incessant honking and shouts to “Move yeh ass!” are scoring this scene, so…yes. There are always trade-offs.

Fizbo’s Demise

A few weeks ago, our beloved Baller came to visit. It was SO wonderful having her here, even though we were (sensing a theme here?) forced to spend a lot of her visit in coffee shops, learning all of the law. But, she (as ballers are wont to do) definitely made the best of it, and explored Boston on her own. (I guess after you tackle Australia solo, one city is child’s play).

We did take her to Giacomo’s, though, (because we care about her as a person) and tried to make up for our lackluster hosting with butternut squash ravioli and playfully grumpy waiters. It was fantastic as usual (seriously, if you ever find yourself in Boston, it is a mandatory stop), but what happened on the way out the door was even better.

We’re walking along, an intelligent group of conversating adults, when we passed this ice cream cone smashed on the ground.

It didn’t even really blip on my radar, but Baller leapt over to that square of sidewalk like it was her own personal frozen treat that had just bitten the dust, and yelled, “SAD!!! Sad. A clown died there.”

Just…what?

And that is why I love her.

Escapes

This last week has been a respite. Our parents arrive tomorrow morning, and the graduation festivities commence, but this was our week to just hang out and do whatever we wanted. Which turned out to be a lot of nothing, followed by a lot of reading. I guess we’re still the same people, despite this three year adventure wrapping up in a few days.

Sometimes I forget I’m an adult. I’ll be sitting around, extremely bored, looking to M for entertainment (while he does the same) and then we both simultaneously realize we can do whatever we want; we live in a major US city and have legs and T passes. It’s kind of hilarious how easy your own agency is to forget.

It’s also amazing when this realization is made on a random Tuesday night, and you can therefore get into Hungry Mother at the last minute.

The cocktail I’m holding in this picture was insane (fiery perfection) but the best thing about it was its summertime picnic serving glass. It reminded me of the glassware my mom used when I was little, and that somehow propelled me into a thought-train about how we should strive to be elegant and retain our joie de vivre as future parents. And also that we should have three kids instead of two. (Did I mention it was mostly tequila?) Inspired by the celebratory mood, M snuck off to the bathroom and told our waitress that I was graduating from law school. Which is technically true, but…shouldn’t this cake have two candles? Still, totally sweet.

And then obviously he had to work off all that sugar in the only way he knows how. (I was totally going to join him, but  I was wearing a dress. The only reason I couldn’t get on top of a lamp post).

The next morning was insanely bright/sunny/warm (Spring in Boston, you may stay) and in our quest to “have adventures,” we walked literally TEN feet from where we normally get off the T and saw stairs leading up. Neither of us had ever walked up there before, so we trekked up to take a look. Oh, no big deal. It was just basically Narnia.

That last picture is from a public dock where you can recline and picnic and read. I’m going to cover my embarrassment at not knowing this was steps from my apartment by saying that it wouldn’t have been useful until this weather anyway. Which is true, but let’s just all forget about how awful I am at exploring cool cities, and concentrate on how well a BarBri study guide is going to fit into this picture next week. That is happening.

Open Sesame Pretty Much Settles It

The other day, for the first few disoriented moments of consciousness, I thought I was in Belmont Shore. The first thing I saw was gray, balmy sky, and my mind immediately leapt to the walk down Santa Ana street to the ocean. The gray sky was real, of course, but the bright purple hibiscus flowers lining that path were three thousand miles away.

I wouldn’t have called myself a “California girl” before spending three years immersed in a culture that is anything but. Growing up, my fantasy life involved urban city centers navigated by public transportation, places with bright marquee lights and scarves and cafes where you could spend all afternoon with Austen or Faulkner without a strange look from teenagers in string bikinis.

I’m sitting in one of those cafes right now. Admittedly, I spend more time with my Google reader than with Austen, but that dream has been realized all the same. A train takes me to school each day, I own enough scarves to outfit a small boutique, and I can tell you where to get the best chocolate-chip cookie in Manhattan.*

Being the child of parents who are still happily married, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever come to being torn between two poles. I love Boston. Twenty minutes and some flat boots can get you anywhere in the whole city, and the place you’re going probably is some speak-easy restaurant with dollar oysters.** But, as my early-morning subconscious can attest, I am longing for the sunny, salty air of the open expanse where I grew up.

M always teases me that I’m a split personality when it comes to cities. When we land in Boston each August, I’m all hopped up on the Q, rhapsodizing about culture! And ethnic food! And intellectual communities! And as soon as the first 20 degree day hits, I’m angry at the weather and making kindergarten paper chains to count down the days to when we fly “home to California, how could anyone even consider living somewhere else!”

So, it’s safe to say that I have trouble making up my mind. Except that when I look ahead to our return home after the bar exam, to living among our core loved ones again (instead of the dreaded exercise of “splitting time” among people I would rather lavish time upon)…I feel nothing but unadulterated excitement.

Perhaps that’s my answer after all.

*It’s Levain Bakery. If someone says otherwise, they’re telling a falsehood and they don’t want you to be happy. Get the chocolate chip walnut and then write a poem about it. We’ll compare our sonnets*** while eating the double-chocolate chip.

**Hi, Marliave. Let’s talk about your gin cocktails and how they’re just…I like them. A lot.

***You were going to do a sonnet, right? Haikus look like you’re not even trying.

Baby Skylight

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This is the first glimpse of the outside world I see every morning, since I’m too groggy to open my eyes all the way in our bedroom.

When we first moved in, I could not get over how small the bathroom was. Tiny. You-cannot-turn-around-in-the-shower tiny.

But you get used to such things so fast, and who wants to turn around in a shower anyway? Be efficient with those natural resources, people!

Hold On

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what in my life I’m comfortable letting go of, and what I want to hold onto with both hands.

Our trip to New York a few weeks ago sparked something in me. The city sort of took me aside and held my head between its hands and was all, “Look. You know you could be making better use of yourself. And your time. And your marriage.”

Apparently it triggered something in M too, because he’s been craving bagels and lox like a man possessed. My bread-loathing husband has made us a breakfast like this twice in the last two weeks:

That picture makes me so jealous of myself from yesterday.

But seriously. I’m really feeling the urge to dig a little deeper in my thoughts/actions/what-have-you and make my existence into “the good life.” My life is already “good”… I’m married to a wonderful man, will be working (soon) and have a network of people that I care so much about. But I really feel like there’s room around here…and I’d like to be consciously filling it with elements of the world that I know will make me feel fully engaged, appreciative and excited.

My dear friend Smash said it best…you are in charge of your life and its peaks and valleys. In her words:

“Happiness doesn’t just happen to you.  It doesn’t rearrange your furniture during the night for optimal flow of energy in your apartment.  It doesn’t change your sheets for you.  It doesn’t make you look good in skinny jeans.  It doesn’t plan your weekend, make dinner reservations, or buy concert tickets for you.  Happiness takes an investment of time, energy, and some amount of soul searching to identify things that make you happy.  Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part, one must pursue happiness.”

Sing it, sister.

So, a resolution of sorts (now that we’re out of January and it feels less bandwagon-y)…I’d like to identify those happiness-triggers and purposefully cram my life full of them.

1. Conversations with my best friends. Ones where I’m not returning their phone calls, but seeking them out myself. Ones where I take the fact that I’ve been thinking about my Baller and wondering how she’s doing, and actually finding out. Conversations that include something like the following:

Smash: So, Xander was telling me all about how he volunteers for the Big Brother group, and he took his little brother shopping for their costume party…

Me: Did that exchange make your ovaries hurt?

Smash: Yeah. I had to be like, “Um, please stop. This conversation is making me pregnant.”

2. Be sure that my time with this guy is as sexy and fun as possible, and that it’s got a vibe that’s more “Hi, Boyfriend” and less “Did You Mail Our Rent Check?”

3. Keep exploring Boston and try to spend time in new haunts (like this place! They had almond milk lattes!) instead of defaulting to old ones.

4. Be aware of my surroundings and remember to document what life is like here, lest I forget later.

(Seriously, what is up with these doors? Do all the child actors under 4’10 live in Beacon Hill? And why do they get their own apartments?)

5. Be physically present as much as possible with the people that make my world go round. I feel like sometimes I unintentionally pay lip-service to devoting time to my people, and don’t make the planning effort necessary to see them as often as I want.

No mas.

(Especially when I am lucky enough to have this girl near me for the next year…)

6. Spend less time on the relentlessly entertaining interwebs and be more productive in my daily life.

Ready…go!

Vistas

These photos are exactly why we wanted to live here. To soak up the brick/ivy/beautiful door knocker East Coast charm that felt completely foreign three years ago, but now feels like home. It feels so natural now to wear heavy coats down the same streets we walked up four months ago in sundresses and shorts. Seasons now make sense, and it no longer feels like a betrayal when I slip on the slushy gutter snow. I should have worn my boots. I know that…I live here.

And living here is walking, always walking. Our home is so central that taking the T anywhere but to school seems like a waste. It’s not so cold yet that the weather feels like a personal affront, so I walk through the park, past the ribbon-clad ducklings, wondering if now might be a good time to take a running slide across the frozen water…

Please note a certain photo-bombing hand pitching a snowball at an indignant squirrel.

Pretty much a 100% decision rate against said pond-sliding. When you’re shivering and wet, it’s much harder to appreciate the holiday lights that are still up.

The reigning theory is that they stay up until it doesn’t feel like winter outside, but this is probably an artifact of our California-hardwired brains. Boston pulls itself out of winter sometime around June. I am personally fine with 6 months of sparkly night-lights, but those who foot the electric bill might disagree.

Salon time

Once upon a time, a dear friend of mine wandered around Boston’s North End and found the most perfect coffee shop in all the world. Their java warms your soul during the city’s horrible winter, and their giant cookies (especially when you ask the super chill staff to heat them up) are a lot like getting a hug. On the mouth? I never said the cookies weren’t awkward, I just said they were delicious.

Boston Common Coffee Company, you are straight up one of the things I will miss most about Boston when we leave. Is that weird, to miss a coffee shop? Especially pre-emptively?

I can’t help it. I am addicted to everything in this photo,* including the Economist that M is reading. Dude, learning is the GREATEST! Did you know how bat-shit crazy Kim Jong Il was? He once kidnapped a South Korean dictator so he could fulfill his dream of making a movie. That is delusion on a very seriously impressive scale. And this magazine is just full of stuff like that, week after week. I think I just never realized before how much “knowing what’s going on in the world” is essentially “watching a giant soap opera.” I mean, let’s be real…my understanding of any economic issues is still pretty impressionistic (“subprime is bad? We are in a lot of debt?”) but everything else is just there for the taking.

*Except maybe the pen.

It’s Getting Pretty Chilly Around Here…

I snapped this on Instagram with my new iPhone (!!) right before we took off for California for Christmas break. (And I do mean right before…we walked over to the mall to do some last minute shopping, and then realized our plane was scheduled to take off in two hours. Adequate planning = not the strong suit of this little family).

California was so, so gorgeous (New Year’s Day was 80 degrees), which is making our re-entry into East Coast “winter” kind of intense. Today it was 20 outside…I had forgotten how that number makes my ears and cheeks ache. I’m trying not to mind it, though, and concentrating on the facts that (a) it’s the last real “winter” we’ll have to get through, and (b) freezing temps mean concentrating on all things inside-oriented. So far that list includes checking out the MFA, cuddling with Ghirardelli brownies, being the guinea pig for M’s quest to create perfect Manhattan (I am such a good wife), and watching a million zillion movies. Next on that list is the new Sherlock Holmes tonight, if M finishes his reading in time.  I have an intense vested interest in this…not for the movie, which will probably be pretty silly, but for the aforementioned brownie that will be snuck into the theater in my purse. Godspeed, husband. As Marcel the Shell would put it, Read ON!

The Units Come to Town

The parental units, that is. M’s parents came to Boston for the first time over Columbus Day weekend, and it seems like they had a blast. They stayed at the Fairmont in the North End, which meant we got to spend more time than usual at our favorite haunts (Boston Common Coffee Company, Giacomo’s, Mike’s). We tried to take them everywhere necessary to get a real “Boston” experience, and I think we did a pretty good job.

I think my mother-in-law’s favorite part of the whole trip might have been going to Top of the Hub and seeing Boston from 54 stories up…she couldn’t get enough of the scenery. I took a few photos too. No matter how long I live here, I can’t help feeling tourist-y about the beauty of this city.

The first time we came to Boston, M was adamant that we make a trip to Top of the Hub. We sipped fancy cocktails, discovered THE cookies, and speculated about whether our futures might ever hold something as fun as living in a “city like this one.”

A few days ago, as very different people (a married couple, about to graduate from law school) we took M’s parents to this same spot.

What a difference 3 years can make. Who knows where we’ll be three years from now?