“So when aw you goin' back ta I'eland?”
“We’re from Canada.” (Dum dum.)
“Oh! I have a cousin in Canada.”
(Let me guess... Toronto?)
“Oh, cool.” (Pity.) “That’s pretty far from our home. We’re from Newfoundland.”
Uncomfortable silence, cut short by Kim’s chuckle and my question – “You don’t have a clue where that is, do ya?”
Fair enough. I mean, I didn’t know much about Boston either. Except it’s the home of Ben Affleck, a famous marathon, Paul Revere and his uber fast horse, the inspiration for the 80s hit television show Cheers, Boston Cream Pie, and tea parties (wink).
Turns out they are a friendly bunch, despite their piss poor grades in world geography. The first person we met was the hotel concierge – a jolly cross between Rodney Dangerfield and Santa Claus. “Where should we go for supper?” we asked him. “My place for a baw-ba-cue,” he replied, followed by a quaking laugh. His name was a slap-in-the-face reminder of the city’s Irish heritage. Seamus Murphy. Perfection. We told him we were from Newfoundland, and although he knew little of it at first, the next time he saw us in the lobby a couple hours later, he proudly rhymed off some googled factoids about our beloved easternmost province. A tip-worthy gesture. The morning we left, his shift hadn’t yet started so we left him an envelope of money at the front desk. On the front we scribbled “Long may your big jib draw!” He’ll figure it out.
Seamus wasn’t the only friendly face in town. We ate at an Italian restaurant, served by the most Italian waiter on earth. Antonio. A 60-ish man with a gut like an overstuffed ravioli, cuddled by a simple white apron. Rolling his r’s and sometimes dropping them in a charming Boston-Italian mishmash, he rocked our worlds with wine and homemade pasta. When I was at least two sheets to the wind with chianti, I decided to try out my Italian accent. “How are your meatballs?” I inquired in my best Italiano. I told him how much I loved the word meatball. He thought this was quite funny, and had a little laughing/coughing episode that shook my cannolis.
Boston. What a lovely little town of only 650,000 people. So big (it’s America’s 20th largest city), yet so small we could walk almost anywhere within 10 minutes flat. So modern, yet so intoxicatingly ancient. The downtown streets are narrow. Sky-high office buildings tower overhead, and yet it feels like a horse-drawn carriage could whizz by at any moment; I hold onto my bonnet. The people are of all shapes and colours, and they look you in the eye. Sometimes the crotch, but mostly the eye. The fat squirrels on Boston Common eat out of your hand, which explains the fatness.
I don’t know much about Boston (two days is hardly immersion), but I like how it feels. It has a unique face, an intriguing story, and an awesome sense of place. Good for you, Beantown. I hereby forgive you for not knowing anything about my awesome place. My home, with a story so deep it makes yours seem like it was written yesterday, and a face so breathtaking it makes yours check itself in the mirror one more time. I’m not trying to pick a fight, of course. You’re wicked good. And I thank you for reminding me how a place can mean so much to a person.
I board the plane at Logan, click my rubyless shoes together and say to myself, There’s no place like home. When I touchdown in St. John’s seven hours later, no amount of fog would keep me from seeing my wide-eyed boy and how very lucky I am.