There is nothing like Boston in the winter. From the center of town, you walk between skyscrapers decorated in a million twinkling lights. The harsh New England winter bites at your fingers and nose turning them a deep, frozen pink. You pull your coat up higher over your face in retaliation and look up. The snow falls in light flutters like a Hallmark movie, perfect and serene in the bustle of the city.
I am always amazed by the feeling I get when I step into Boston. Whether my dad drives us, or I am stepping off the T, or sometimes it was for school trips. There is a feeling that comes over me from top to bottom making my nerves warm and feeling full. It is a sense of adventure in a familiar place and I am captivated. I had been since I was small, excited to ride the T to my first Red Sox’s game, decked out in red and white regalia.
I grew up about twenty minutes outside the city that stole my heart with one glance. I can remember being two feet high and watching with rapt attention out the window, using my car seat to push myself up for leverage, to see the Logan Bridge and the way the roads twisted and turned over each other on their way into the city. I can see the TD Garden where I saw my first concert and the buildings rise up behind it one after another coming into view. I can crane my neck and feel like I am going to fall backwards trying to see the tops.
I feel small. Even now that I have grown up I am an ant in the center of a huge field. But I also feel that the city is small. Encaptured in its own bubble-like a snow globe. It exists like a television show, people bustling and talking into cell phones and blue tooth headsets. Like a slightly smaller New York. Cars honk and people push you in their hurry to move, but I always like to find a bench and just sit and watch.
Now there is a Starbucks on every corner, with a Dunkin’s across the street, and I can sit and drink my coffee watching the world pass by in blurs of muted color. The coffee shop writers like myself fill the air with the tap tap tap of their keyboards and the room smells strongly of mocha and biscottis. Outside, a woman dressed head to toe in Channel talks loudly into iPhone and taps her four-inch stiletto on the ground in impatience. A businessman rushes by her and knocks her coffee over onto her perfect suit. He never looks back or utters an apology.
There are tourists that hang around Quincy Market and the Harbor. Tourists that stand in the middle of the walkways blocking foot traffic. People yell curse words at them, because this is Boston and “Hey, buddy! I’m walkin’ heah!” They gather in droves on the sidewalk staring in front of memorials and buildings with historical plaques as if they’ve never seen brick or mortar before. They pull each other over excitedly to street performers with their loud music. Boys break dancing to loud crowds that throw money in a beat-up guitar case.
There is shopping and good food whose smell mingles with the smell of car exhaust and music that echoes down the street drawing you into the rich culture and vibrant colors. I had one chance to see Boston as a tourist. I was sixteen and my girlfriend of two years was visiting from Florida at a conference. I showed her my favorite places around Back Bay watching with rapt attention seeing the city through her eyes.
Now the city is laced with our first dates, whispers of memories floating in the wind that whistles in the spaces between the buildings. I can see her coming down the steps of the Hynes Convention Center where we met for the first time. Hugging her next to the giant circle planter on the second floor. My senior prom at the Park Plaza Hotel had me running my hand over the back of this one couch we sat on a year earlier talking, the leather warm and soft under my hand. Quincy Market has imprints of our clasped hands and cold noses on the November wind. And this one step by the courthouse holds the secret of my first kiss, lips pressed tight until the New England November chill sunk into our bones and we searched for shelter.
The snow falls more laying on my lashes and hair. The lights twinkle and I am alone now in the heart of my city. I breathe on my hands to warm them pulling my pea coat a little tighter. I pass by the women with her coffee spilled and the rude businessman. Ducking under architecture giants and making my way through Back Bay. Cars honk and people yell either on the streets or out windows I am not sure.
Boston is feisty and strong and loud and beautiful. Just like its people. The wind whips around me tugging at my hair and I duck into the mall. I place gloved hands over my nose trying to warm it. The people who inhabit Boston are known to be passionate because we are Boston personified.