I don’t see the Citgo sign as the bus drives into Boston because my attention is on the man sitting next to me.
The bus ride to Boston, once seeming days long, feels short this time. The last time I was in Boston was three months ago – waiting out the tail-end of a doomed relationship, wondering if I had wasted the past year of my life on a boy who never loved me back.
This time, I was with a man who has an uncanny ability to make my heart melt and make me cry of happiness.
Boston was once home. I felt like an imposter, every time I went back after I graduated, clinging onto a city that was not mine. This time, Boston wasn’t home – just an old friend, with memories of joy and laughter and pain and sorrow.
This time, New York was home. Boston was just memories passed.
The Whole Foods on Prospect Street is still oddly familiar, even though I had only gone a few times. I can almost taste the pickles we used to get there in my mouth. We don’t go in.
Instead we walk into this adorable little toy shop on the other side of the street. It’s decked out with toys and activity books and I’m sorely tempted to buy something for my little sister, but I decide against it.
I had never been in the shop. I must have walked past it a bunch of times but never noticed it. It’s interesting how you notice new things in an old city when you’re with someone new.
We walk down Cambridge Street. The memories flood back and I am overwhelmed with the joy that I remember feeling here. I used to walk down this street to eat amazing food and to visit friends that I still love.
The food is still good. We go to Christina’s for ice cream multiple nights in a row, and each time, I get their burnt sugar ice cream. It’s my favorite.
We go to Tupelo, as well, this time with a college friend who had never been. Tupelo remains the best chicken and waffles place I have ever tried. Cambridge Street remains a place full of good feelings and good memories.
We walk past the house he used to live in, where he tried something without asking despite being ‘not that kind of guy’. I remember suppressing the emotions and crying to my roommate days later. He doesn’t try it again when I go back.
My heart jolts a little bit. Seeing the house, so nondescript, so quietly innocent, feels uncomfortable. I turn my head to the man next to me and realize it didn’t matter; I’m happy now, in a good place now, with a person who treats me well, makes sure I’m fed, makes sure I’m doing okay. Plus, he gets me funny presents – like bug spray, after I get attacked by mosquitoes. Often times, it’s the little things.
The boy is becoming but a footnote in my past. A friendly acquaintance, and nothing more.
I go to a part of Boston I had never been, to visit my oldest friend. He asks why we became friends, and we don’t have an answer.
Someone once told me that friends were for exploiting. She told me to make friends with people that would be advantageous in the long run – people that were going places, and would bring me up with them, that I could later surpass.
I never took the advice.
I don’t know how I choose my friends – they seem to self-select as time goes by. By some stroke of luck, my closest friends are loving, caring, incredible people who are all a little odd and a little dorky in their own special ways.
My oldest friend is also the nicest person I know. She sees me more clearly than I can see myself. She told me what my biggest weakness was long before I accepted it was true.
I ask her if she approves, later on. I think she does.
Finally. I had planned to come see this since my junior year of college and never got around to it. I lose myself in the beauty of the colored glass and the serenity of the spherical environment, and I let out a small sigh of happiness.
Smaller than expected, but the photos of the Mapparium are nothing compared to the real thing. The visuals and the audio within the space are incredible. Sometimes, new people in your life help motivate you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do – and your life is better for it.
We see some other things that I hadn’t been to before either. We go to a Harry Potter store on Newbury Street, a tiny space filled to the brim with Harry Potter merchandise, and I feel like a child in a candy store. We go to Primark to marvel at the stupidly affordable prices and end up buying some things we think we can fit in our backpacks.
We stroll through the Boston Commons and the Gardens in the rain, laughing at the ducks waddling by and huddling close for warmth.
The weather is chilly but my heart is warm.
This time, for the first time in a long time, I don’t cry as the bus leaves Boston. I look to the person at my side and smile. All I need – all I want – is either beside me or waiting for me back home, in New York City.