On the move

Sean and I are moving this week, and I’m drowning in all the Feelings. (You can tell I’m not myself because it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m wide awake.)

The neighborhood we’re in now was exactly what we wanted when we moved up here: beautiful, historic, and within walking distance of nearly every major Boston attraction (not to mention my office).

south end boston

Our apartment is exactly what we had in mind, too: a 19th-century charmer that’s full of character—from a big bay window and heavy crown molding to intricate fireplaces and exposed brick.

living2

living1

But comeliness and convenience come at a price—figuratively and literally. Those 150-year-old windows don’t do much to block out the noise from the busy street that we live on (and forget about insulation). Plus, we pay through the nose for our rickety little shoebox, and when management announced they were raising the rent by another 7% this year, we decided that it was time to start looking elsewhere.

living3

The new place is only about ten miles east, but it’s worlds away in terms of vibe. My current neighborhood is pure New England class and everyone who lives here is on trend. The new neighborhood is laid back and funky and everyone who lives there was definitely feeling the Bern at some point this year.

kitchen

And oh, my apartment! It’s so big I’m afraid someone is going to get lost in there (looking at you, Layla). The kitchen is the size of our current bedroom (nothing like that galley horror up there), which means my bed will fit just fine and I’m never leaving. It’s also on the top floor (byeee, stompy neighbors!), has brand new windows (thanks, thoughtful landlord!), and a big backyard (heeey, smoked brisket!). The best part? It’s $100/month less than what we pay now.

But in spite of all the positives, I can’t keep the Feelings at bay. Objectively, the new area is much more me. But the neighborhood I live in now feels like home. I had such a hard time adjusting when I moved up here: My only friends for the first six months were my familiar running route and these 600 or so square feet. And I’ll never see them again.

bedroom1

bedroom2

When my first fall wafted in, I breathed in the crisp air as I crunched golden leaves on the ubiquitous brick-red sidewalks. I worry that I won’t find that idyll anywhere else. When I finally settled in to fell in love with Boston, I walked these streets like I owned them. Now I don’t even lease.

south end snow

I’m only moving ten miles away, but I’m treating every meal and every moment here like it’s my last. (To be fair, ten miles is 30-45 minutes in Boston time.) I’m mourning the loss of convenience and admiring every nook and cranny of this picture-perfect place. I’m taking pictures for posterity and packing very slowly. It’s been a good 2.5 years, South End. Until we meet again.

The daily commute

A lot of questions came up when we decided to move across the country: What neighborhood would suit us? How will we find an apartment? Where will we live in the meantime? What if all our stuff doesn’t fit in our new place? But one thing was certain: we were only going to have one car, and Sean was going to drive it.

Street parking is hard to come by in Boston. It’s a challenge to find one parking spot, let alone two. Plus it comes with a fair number of perils: drivers who don’t give a darn what they bump into, overzealous meter maids, and blizzards that bury vehicles under piles of snow. We park the car in a garage about a quarter mile from our apartment to avoid all that, and it costs a pretty penny. Garage parking for two cars would be ridikilus.

Sean got a job before we moved, and his office is some miles outside of Boston and not really on any public transit routes. Meanwhile, I was working from home and have never been especially fond of driving anyway. So Sean got the car by default, and it was up to me to find a job I could get to by subway or bus.

I cast a small net when I was searching so I wouldn’t snag any leads outside of the commutable area. (I actually ended up having to turn down a promising opportunity when I realized — after a great phone interview — that it was waaaaay too far outside the city to work for me.)

The job I wound up getting is in the perfect location. It’s less than two miles from my apartment and easily accessible via the T. When I first started, I was taking the subway to and from the office every day. But after a couple of weeks, I realized that I actually preferred walking home — fewer people to contend with, no waiting for the train to arrive, and a $2.10 fare saved every, single day. Plus, I figured the nice walking weather wouldn’t be around forever, so I ought to enjoy it for as long as I could. A few weeks after that, I discovered that riding the T in the morning only saved me around 10 minutes, so I might as well walk to work, too.

I’ve been commuting by foot almost exclusively since September, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love having 40 minutes before the day starts to amble the sleep away, and I love having 40 minutes after the day ends to unwind. Sure, there are lots of other walkers on my route, and yeah, I stroll past plenty of anxious drivers, but once my headphones are in and my podcast is playing, I don’t really notice the all traffic.

Weather hasn’t been much of a factor so far. A few mornings have been chilly-ish, but after a couple of blocks I’m so toasty from moving that I don’t even notice the cold. And on days that are especially rainy (Nor’easters, ho!) the T is always an option.

My goal is to continue commuting this way until the first big snow storm hits. I don’t have any interest in slipping on black ice or braving searing winds or being pelted in the face with wet snow — thank you very much — but as long as the weather’s cooperating, I’ll be walking.

Boston_financial_district

Mega hotties

Ever since my friend blew my ever-lovin’ mind four years ago with the revelation that the house she grew up in in Connecticut did not have central air, I’ve wanted to live in a house without central air, too. I mean, I hate being hot — I absolutely loathe it — but anyplace where air conditioning is not required is a place that’s probably not all that hot to begin with.

And that’s been…mostly true of Boston. The townhouse we live in was built in the 1860s, so we definitely do not have AC. It’s not designated as an historic building, which means we’re allowed to use window units if we want. But summers are so short here, and window units are clunky and kind of pricey, so we’re attempting to tough it out with only a portable fan.

I’d say 80% of the summer days so far have been manageable (low 80s) to downright cool (high of 70 last Sunday — WHAT). But the other 20% has made us question our resolve in a big, big way. We’re not talking Texas heat by any means — the highest temp we’ve seen was 93 — but OH, the humidity! I haven’t needed a snorkel to survive (yet) but I have had to learn some new tricks to keep from poaching inside my house:

  • Take multiple showers during the day. If I shower when I get up in the morning, I’m always sticky again a few hours later, and downright putrid by bedtime on hot days. (I’m pretty jealous that Sean gets to sit in an air-conditioned office all day.) Lukewarm showers to wash off the yuck and cool me down have become a favorite activity.
  • Buy all the bobby pins and hair ties. They say thick hair is a blessing in the winter, but right now my must-have accessory is my hair tie. Dirty, messy buns may not be the cutest style, but it’s the one I’ll be rocking every day until the fall.
  • Sleep with the windows open. Sweating through the night was our biggest fear when we decided not to buy a window unit. But thankfully it gets down into the 60s almost every night, so as long as our bedroom window is open and our fan is going, we’re pretty comfortable. (Although our comforter has been temporarily relocated to the closet. Don’t worry, comforter, it’ll be your turn to shine soon enough.)
  • Don’t cook. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t turn on the oven! I’ve done it a couple of times on super hot days and almost didn’t recover. The stovetop is less oppressive as long as I don’t spend a ton of time on prep (hello, boxed mac and cheese!); the microwave is better; takeout is my best friend.
  • Sit perfectly still. The trick to keeping relatively cool in a sweltering house is to plop down on the couch and not move a muscle for the rest of the day. No going to the bathroom or eating. Just sitting. You may eventually melt into the couch, but that should help facilitate the not moving.
  • Embrace the darkness. Overhead lights and open blinds are the enemy of cool. The lack of light sometimes makes my house feel like a pit of despair, but at least it’s a less hot pit.

The good news is that we’re almost over the hump. Word on the street is that July is the hottest month, so I’m crossing my fingers for only a few more gross days before we can put the heat behind us. (And then put on our parkas!)