John and I might, just might, be getting used to Boston.
We decided to make the trip north for Easter weekend. As John had an afternoon meeting in Cambridge, we loaded up the car before his meeting and decided to leave from the office building when it was done. This had us leaving from a point that we haven’t actually left from to go to Maine before, a fact that six months ago would have had us going over maps in detail for hours before setting out, even with the help of our little GPS unit. But it didn’t phase us a bit. Better yet, when Nuvi tried to take us in some crazy direction that didn’t make sense, we shrugged and went the way we thought would be faster. We did get a tad disoriented when we accidentally got onto Route 1 for a bit (listening to Nuvi’s advice over our own instincts), but it didn’t induce the panic it might have in September.
Driving back was a pretty positive experience for our self-image as competent navigators of Boston. Normally we take I-95 around to Route 2 to get into Allston, which is longer than taking I-93, but less congested and less ridiculous. We were feeling good about our identity as adults on the way back, which led us to decide that we would try taking I-93, to see how if it was any faster. Perhaps it is, sometimes, but only on nights when it is sufficiently decongested for anyone to drive faster than 25 mph. I will say this in it’s favor: it is a more interesting route than I-95, in that it highlights that ridiculousness so common to Boston roads. Specifically, it becomes clear that the design of the city is not meant for people to drive in, per se, but is rather intended to make invasion by land and by air incredibly difficult. All in all, John and I were pretty pleased when we found ourselves driving along the Charles in front of MIT, recognized where we were, and actually knew (roughly) how to get home.
This isn’t to say that we actually like Boston. I think there a few more difficult exercises of will and responsibility that I have had to do in my life thus far than leaving Maine after this wonderful, restful weekend in order to return to life in the city. And the parking situation when we got into Allston emphasized how Boston has a finesse for irritation.
We actually found a spot as soon as we pulled into our neighborhood. It was a metered spot that meant we (by which I mean John, let’s be honest…I don’t really do the parking) would have to repark the car in the morning, but that’s as good as it usually gets in the evening. We unloaded our stuff and began the trek down the road, only to discover that the spot would have to be vacated by 2am for street cleaning.
Since it was unlikely we’d find anything closer, we left the car where it was long enough to haul our stuff inside. On our own street, I was annoyed to see that several people had absurd gaps in between their spots that would have left room for two more cars on the street if they were tightened up just a tad. John was sympathetic to the drivers, blaming the appearance of raging discourtesy on the patterns of different sized cars coming and going, but it ticked me off. My kingdom for the strength of a football team!
Inside the building, my buttons got pushed again by another needless act of rudeness on the part of our co-tenants. Someone had left the elevator grate open a bit on an upper floor, meaning that we couldn’t call the elevator. I wasn’t thrilled about having to walk up to the fourth floor with my arms full of our weekend gear, but it makes me downright mad to think of one of the moms with little kids and strollers or one of the few elderly people in the building being forced to climb those flights because someone couldn’t take two seconds to make sure the grate was closed.
We went back out again to move the car, which was an easier process than it could have been at that hour on a Sunday night. We found and tried one spot on a residential street close to our building, which would have been wonderful…if the car had actually fit. Let’s just say that my standing on the sidewalk and directing the parking process does not actually make a spot large enough to accommodate the car. We did find a metered spot not too much further away, drove past it, and were relieved to find it still empty when we managed to swing back around.
Tired, but pleased with our find, we trudged back home and up the four flights of stairs from the basement, ready to collapse into bed. “When is the street cleaning for that spot?” I thought to ask, somewhat belatedly. The process of getting ourselves and the car settled went from mildly absurd to hilarious at that point and we laughed the entire way back to the car to read the sign. Fortunately, the weather was still warm and nice for walking. And this time, I remembered before we got halfway back to the apartment, “We did turn the lights off, right?”
Yeah, city living isn’t really high on our list of preferred lifestyles. But we are getting used to it.