We are in a very eclectic neighborhood – went to find a simple list of grocery items and had to visit three different little markets to get everything. The first market (Asian/Mexican) felt like home: big boxes of coconuts, pipinola (chayote), papayas and mangoes on the floor, brown eggs from organic fed chickens, even canned rambutan, eggplant, banana blossoms and jackfruit (several different varieties and brands). There were pickled rhizones, and many other things I’ve never seen before. But no cream for my coffee, canned soup or wine. We decided not to cook, as the apartment has little in the way of equipment (or even salt and pepper). On the other hand, it has a washer and dryer. What a luxury.
Boston is beginning to reveal its charm, or maybe I am finally present enough to see it. This was the week of St. Patrick’s Day. In Boston they take the whole week to celebrate it. We saw tons of people taking the T to the parade. Of course there were college students in green clothes, green hair, green faces and the ubiquitous green necklaces. But green-clothed babies in strollers were almost as numerous, their perambulators festooned with green tinsel, green feather boas and other green regalia. I think part of the appeal of St. Patrick’s Day must be the return of green to the city, even if not in the form of grass. Well, there was the one yard with AstroTurf.
In fact, I noticed just how much a little dash of color made me happier, such as an outside sale on brightly colored shoes. Everyone seems to be trying to throw off winter in whatever way they can. At every university so far, we’ve seen students daring the cold and willing spring to arrive by wearing shorts. And while the recent rain/sleet was nasty to walk around in, it did reduce the snow piles, a psychologically welcome outcome.
Even on the coldest days, we heard street musicians bringing happy music to passers-by. In one subway stop we saw an organ grinder (no monkey), a Neil Diamond wanna-be, a blue grass fiddler, and a Chinese man playing an erhu – quite a diverse mix, and far enough apart not to clash.
We decided to splurge on something special to the city. So we got tickets to the opening night of the Boston Ballet’s performance of Shades of Sound. My daughter was so excited to be seeing a ballet performance in a real theatre district, at the Boston Opera House. Later she discovered that she could continue her ballet lessons there: $18 for 90 minutes. That’s nearly the same as what we were paying in Racine and Waimea.
She also spent one of our free days getting into the psyche of the city the best way she knows how: thrift shopping. Thrift shops abound in this neighborhood and she struck gold: sweaters, comfy warm boots and a pashmina. Her prized purchase was a brand new (tags still in it) Bloomingdales strapless dress for $12, originally $225! She wanted to wear it to the ballet, but got practical when the wind chills fell to minus 18.
And then there was the food. Right in our immediate neighborhood we have a Brazilian bakery, three Korean restaurants, Vietnamese, Sushi, Sicilian, Italian, unspecified Asiana, Afghani, Mediterranean, Japanese and various seafood retaurants, mostly Italian. There was also a hookah lounge. Hmm.
On our outings, we also found Tibetan, Pakistani, Indian, Thai, Mexican, Lebanese, Taiwan, Chinese, French and, of course, Irish. So many temptations. While Irish restaurants reigned this week of St. Patrick’s Day, it was the Italian places that stand out most in our minds (and bellies). Italian bakeries (we had our first cannoli), Italian restaurants (the pasta is immensely better than any other I have had), Italian drinks (flavorful lemon and orange soda and strong Italian coffee), and an Italian deli with giant cheeses and artisan breads. We spent so much time in the Italian deli that we smelled of smoked meats and cheeses when we left, trailing a fragrant odor for about an hour!
Oh, yes, I almost forgot – the three universities we evaluated this week: too small, too big, just right. I liked the focus of the small one – social justice, and the Hogwarts feel. But the student body was not very diverse in any way. I also liked the one that was too big – tons of diversity, a great program, and a 94% graduation rate in four years. But at best, it made the status of a safety school in my daughter’s mind. We both loved the one that was just right. It had a fantastic co-op program that practically guaranteed a job at graduation, but a five year program. Add this one to the school she loved from last week, and we’ve done a good job weeding through her choices.
We both agree that we’ll miss Boston when we leave today.
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