Our New England adventure continues. (If you missed the post about Ender’s Island, be sure to read it here.)
We decided to end our road trip visiting Mr. H’s sister and fiancé in Boston. My dad grew up in Massachusetts so it always comes as a surprise to people, including me, that I have never been to Boston. Ah, that is the life of a military brat – never seeing the area your parents grew up but having seen Neuschwanstein twice before you were fourteen.
It was a one-day whirlwind tour with the intention of freely wandering Boston, just following the beat of the city and where it led us. After breakfast, we found ourselves wondering where to wander and decided to follow a little red brick trail in the middle of the sidewalk. We soon discovered it was the Freedom Trail and were led to the Irish Famine Memorial and Old Meeting House on School & Washington Streets and soon found Old City Hall where I paid homage to a statue of the first original Francophile, Benjamin Franklin. Little Man loved the ABC Hopscotch outside of the First Latin Public School, threw a fit when we decided to move on, fell, scraped his knee, and had a Phineas & Ferb Band-Aid applied while leaning against a short brick wall. (Semper Paratus – always travel with a little first aid kit.) King’s Church we viewed from the outside exploring the crooked gravestones engraved with skulls and cherubs. Then we marched down to Boston Commons, where Little Man stuck his hands into Brewer’s Fountain, rode a Carousel, and ran in circles as we viewed the grounds, Sailors & Soldier’s Memorial, and the Boston Massacre Memorial. By early afternoon we met up with our lovely family and our officially unofficial city guides, who treated us to a ride in a swan boat and the revelation of Boston’s most important site: the tree under which he proposed.
We watched the ducks swim in the pond, walked through a beautiful little garden, and window shopped on Newbury Street. I only took photos of Boston’s McKim Library building upon discovering it still was not open. I was inspired by the two statues in the front of the building: Science is on the left staring to the right where Art sits staring back. Knowledge requires both logic and creativity, fact and fiction, the tangible and the belief in all possibilities. These statues are a beautiful reminder.
We were soon hungry and took the T to Kennmore Square. (Little Man was quite undone by this combination of train and bus – I am certain this was the ultimate highlight of his trip.) Lunch at Eastern Standard was spectacular. It was one of those relaxing, leisurely lunches filled with laughter and absolute pleasure, both in the culinary and company aspect. There was a long menu of specialty cocktails that was torture to choose from but we overcame. I sipped on a chilly pink Velo made with lemon, Cognac, and elderflower and also stole a sips of Mr. H’s yellow Becherovka and lemon Metamorphosis. For lunch I ordered Eggs In Purgatory, because with a name like that how could I not? I also enjoyed my first raw oysters and efficiently checked a box off of my Life To Do List. (I refuse to call it a Bucket List because these are not things to do before I die but things to do because I live.) The oysters were such a pure and clean sensation that I fail to find it comparable to anything else I have eaten. I look forward to enjoying many more in the future and discovering “how I take them.”
(“Why” you may ask “Are there no pictures of your lunch and drinks? Don’t you mainly write about food?” I will tell you. This is an enormous pet peeve of mine: taking pictures when dining out. When I’m in the privacy of my own kitchen, creating something scrumptious for this blog, I have the thought and time set aside for taking pictures. It is intentionally for a post and not interrupting my dining/cooking process. When I am dining, I dine. I don’t want to stop to take a snapshot of my food because it disrupts “the moment.” It is a bit like foreplay, a seductive instant between me and what I am about to, hopefully, enjoy. The anticipation as the plate is lowered before me, the hushed excitement at the table as each person eyes their dish and then mine and then theirs again. The aromas tantalizing my senses as I pick up my fork and delve into that moment unequivocal truth, of knowledge, good, and evil: will this be everything it has been built up to be? Delicious or mediocre? A meal I will remember or just sustenance until the gnawing hunger in my stomach returns? To take a picture strips my meal down to only the visual characteristics and disrupts “the moment.” I like that moment. And this is why I hate taking pictures of food while I am dining out.)
After our stomachs were filled and limbs rested, we trekked to Harvard to fulfill another life-long desire of mine: to go to an Ivy League school. Now I can say, truthfully, I went to Harvard. I did not attend but I did go there. Semantics, people. Alas, another library visit was thwarted as only ID card-holding students could enter the Harvard Library. We explored a small part of the campus, admiring the brick buildings and trees and thought them all to look very smart before going to the bookstore, where I bought a Harvard coffee cup with the intention drinking from it every morning and, also, feeling very smart.
By the time we arrived at the Harbor, walked through Faneuil Hall, and stopped to watch the sea lions swim near the aquarium, our feet ached and Little Man was falling asleep in his future uncle’s arms. Our gracious city guides offered to become our gracious dinner hosts, to which we happily accepted. And this was my favorite part of Boston.
We were greeted with glasses of wine and a comforting meal of steak, mashed potatoes, summer squashes and asparagus, and this avocado-olive salsa to go with our beef that was absolutely incredible. I still crave it. I’ll find myself daydreaming about it while waiting at the butcher counter. The decision not to go to a restaurant happened to be a brilliant one as Little Man’s gentlemanly-and-good-behavior levels dropped into the red, having been drained by the day’s previous activities. Dinner consisted of picking up his fork from the ground multiple times, half conversations interrupted by whining, and the inevitable game of everyone taking a turn holding him while the others ate. Somewhere between that all-too-usual urge to both laugh and cry when my child acts up, I realized that this was my favorite part of our trip to Boston.
Because when we are with family we have the luxury of being our stripped-down and exhausted selves. We can expose those dirty secrets of “our child isn’t always perfect” and “parenting is basically us having no idea what we are doing.” And family still loves us, and feeds us, and will more than likely be happy to see us again. This moment may not be a grand historical event or large monument but for me it was epic. Because love always is.
We’ll be back, Harvard.