Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A little road trip.

On about a week's notice, I decided to go up to Massachusetts and started re-scheduling people to free up a five-day weekend. A friend is working on a project that has him in Concord much of the time and it seemed like a good excuse to see the area. My flight to Philadelphia was delayed (of course), so they rerouted me to DC instead, and I made it into Boston only half an hour off schedule.
I'm not sure I'd like living out of a hotel for such long periods of time. Sure, it's nice having breakfast provided for you and someone changing the sheets and towels, but the whole living-out-of-a suitcase thing would get old. I managed the trip with only a carry-on because I like traveling light.
My first afternoon there, I drove my rental car over to Arlington, where I lived as a kid. My father went to the Naval Academy before he and my mother married, and several years later, the Navy sent him to MIT to get his master's degree in mechanical engineering, We were re-located to Massachusetts from 1965 - 68. This is my old street, Washington Avenue. See that retaining wall at the edge of the driveway on the left? I remember sitting on it eating oreos and lemonade and chattering at the moving men when they were packing us up for the move to California.
As I parked on the street, I noticed a cop pull onto the street behind me, then back up into that driveway. I thought he was turning around, but when I looked up in the midst of taking pictures, I saw that he was just parked there, watching me. Oh. So I walked over, smiling and waving and saying, "Hi there!" Who can stay stony-faced when approached like that? Not him - he smiled back and said, "Hi!" He looked like the classic Boston Irish cop, with fair hair and a roundish face. I told him I didn't mean to be acting suspiciously, but I'd lived in that house as a little girl. He said, "You lived in this house?"And told me he'd bought it in 1974. Well, no wonder he was watching me! It was a one-story house when I lived in it with my parents, older sister and younger brother. He'd added the second story. I was so young that I have only a few memories of the place - like playing in a sandbox and on a swing set with the next-door neighbor kids in that area between the two houses.
After we chatted for a bit about which neighbors from the old days still lived there, I asked him for directions to the elementary school. He said, "Peirce? Oh, you won't recognize that either - they've completely rebuilt it, it's no longer a big brick box." He was right - I sure didn't recognize it. But I think it looks pretty cool. They have a huge playground out back. I went to kindergarten at Peirce the last year we lived in Arlington.
Before I left, the cop added, "They kept the old pediment and use it as the school's sign. You'll want to get a picture of that, too!" I got back in my car feeling good about the friendly conversation.
I also drove to the next town, Lexington, where we attended Follen Church, an old Unitarian Universalist church. It was built in 1840 and was radically egalitarian for the time - at the groundbreaking, the minister prayed that "this church never be desecrated by intolerance, or bigotry, or party spirit; more especially its doors might never be closed against any one, who would plead in it the cause of oppressed humanity." Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the early ministers of the church. All I really remember as a kid in the congregation is that we used to do things like go on nature walks.
The first couple of nights I was there, we stayed in Concord and ate one dinner at a sushi place and another at a restaurant downtown where I got scallop and shrimp risotto.
We walked around the town for a bit one night, and found this brick labyrinth. We were waiting for a table at the restaurant, but walked it in record time, in a sort of anti-mindful way (which included me yelling, "You're cheating" when my friend tried to cross directly to the center).
I had the first two weekdays on my own while he worked, so I made plans to do a little exploring on Friday, which I'll cover in the next post.

40 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a fascinating visit with your past, and made it to that interesting place where past and present merge. I hope it was all very positive.

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    1. A little unsettling to see the changes, but still positive.

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  2. OMG, you were delayed in PHILADELPHIA?!?! Heck, you should have emailed me and I would come to the airport and sat with you and talked, while you were waiting for your connecting flight!

    Sounds and looks like you had an AWESOME time in Mass. I've always wanted to visit there because I work with a guy from there and he's always telling me how beautiful it is. And from the look of your photos, it is!

    "I told him I didn't mean to be acting suspiciously, but I'd lived in that house as a little girl. He said, "You lived in this house?" And told me he'd bought it in 1974."

    Wow...how amazing is that? And what a lovely home it is!

    I remember when I first moved back to Philly and visited the home I grew up in. It was very emotional because all these memories came back to me.

    Can't wait to read more about your road trip!

    Welcome home, girl!

    X

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    1. No, but if I ever am, I will definitely email!

      It really is beautiful. I could happily live there if it weren't for the long, ,long winters. And I'm so glad I happened to come by at a time when the guy was patrolling the neighborhood. It made it a much more interesting visit.

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  3. It's always a bit disconcerting to see someplace from the past. When I do that, I end up with dreams that include people and places from my past, but with me as I am now. Makes sense, but still leaves a strange feeling behind. Very interesting to meet the current owner of the old house. Looks like a nice place to be a kid.

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    1. It is, isn't it? I didn't have any dreams about it, though, that I can recall. It was a nice neighborhood.

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  4. pretty cool to see the old places in our lives...my how they change though...my old hometown has greatly changed....the new school looks cool and somewhat modern...lol on the run in with the cop...ha...mm the risotto looks good as well...

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    1. The town I think of as my hometown in Georgia has grown up a lot. I liked it a little sleepier.

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  5. What a wonderful trip and thanks for your comment. When I first got my chair, I went looking for a therapist and never found anyone here that had any interest...I suspect that individual you mention is lucky to have found you.

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    1. You're welcome. I don't understand why it was such a problem to find a therapist - we made sure the doors we put in would accomodate wheelchairs.

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  6. i love boston. glad you had such a nice chat with the current owner of your childhood home. sounds like it shaped up to be a nice trip for short notice.

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    1. Ironically, the one place I didn't get to ob this trip was Boston itself. But I do like that city.

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  7. These days it seems like most people do the carry on thing. I do it because of the extra charge for checking a bag, except for international flights.

    I have a friend who is living out of a hotel right now. It was easier than trying to rent a place while her CEO husband worked on a turn-around project. She swears by it, but I couldn't see myself settling in.

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    1. Nearly everyone seemed to have a carry-on bag, but I also noticed lots of folks waiting to retrieve bigger bags.

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  8. I did the Lexington, Concord, revolutionary war thing many years ago. I remember the nice town squares and that famous bridge.
    I don't think 5 days is too much to live out of a suit case. Back when I travel much more I didn't care to be moving to a different hotel every night. Staying at one home base location is the best way if possible.

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    1. Living out of a small carry-on works best when the weather is warmer, I find.

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  9. What a great trip down memory lane for you! That is wonderful that you got to talk to the current owner. Many years ago, at our old house, a guy and girl stopped by. They were in town for a wedding and the girl's parents were the original owners of our home. We had as much fun hearing her stories as she had seeing her old house. And the guy she was with had lived next door and they were still friends.

    I love your old school. Looking forward to more trip report!

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    1. I often think about stopping by my old house in town, just to see the changes they made.

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  10. And if you're wondering why I'm up so late, I had a battle with a stink bug for the last hour. And I finally won!

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    1. An hour! That's a long battle. I am still taking them out by the dozen.

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    2. It kept dive bombing me and then I couldn't find it in my bedroom. I wasn't going o go to sleep until I got it.

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  11. That sounds like an awesome thing to do. I sort of wish I could do something similar but I've lived in the same city most of my life.

    Well, there was a town 5 hours away that we would stay at during the summers when I was younger because that's where my Dad worked. I wonder how its changed...

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    1. I've lived in may cities so I still have places I'd like to go back and see.

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  12. Some fascinating memories. And how interesting that you met the guy who now lives in your childhood house. I like the church pledge that "its doors might never be closed against any one who would plead in it the cause of oppressed humanity."

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    1. UUs are good about inclusivity. I suspect that early exposure shaped my religious thinking.

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  13. One place I recommend if to visit if you have time is the Eastern Shore of Maryland, many little ferries between places, and some good seafood.
    Appears Thomas Wolfe was incorrect, eh? It's just not the same.

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    1. My father used to live in Shady Side, MD, on the Chesapeake, so I've spent time there, and also eaten at many of the crab places. Also, a few times to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, which has the same sort of feel to me.

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  14. Looks like a beautiful place. I imagine it is rather nice to visit with a friend who sometimes is busy, so that you can be on your own...but is also available to hang out.

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    1. I actually really liked having that time on my own to explore unconstrained!

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  15. It’s lovely to retrace your steps and revisit childhood haunts.
    It seems to have been a very good idea to take time off for this as well as getting to know the new man away from home. (Is he the one who isn’t going to last?)

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    1. Yes, that guy. But still a fun visit with him.

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  16. Looks a lovely place and its always a bit of a shock when things get torn down and rebuilt in a totally different manner. Somehow I think I'd rather hold on to my unspoilt childhood haunts (that probably only exist in my head after all this time!)
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

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    1. When I go back and visit old childhood places, I see them with the old place superimposed over them in my mind.

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  17. That was so cool with the cop! How weird that he bought the house you lived in. Beautiful church and the risotto looks delicious. So far it sounds like a lovely time.

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    1. And how funny that he just happened to be there for me to talk with!

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  18. Taking impromptu trips are the best - you don't have time to plan too much and then get disappointed when it doesn't turn out as well as in your plans.
    And any trip that involves going down memory lane is best done on ones own.

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    1. It did help - I looked up a few things to do, but had no serious plans other than seeing my old home.

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  19. It's nice to go back to a place you lived. I always dream about the first house I lived in when we came to Canada. I'm a grown up but everyone and everything else is the same.

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    1. That's why it's always a surprise to fun into people you used to know and see that they've aged!

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