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 things you’re missing out on

A funny thing happened not long after I moved to Massachusetts: I became the boastful, “y’all”-slinging, Lone-Star-flag waving Texan your momma warned you about. Before I moved, I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about: I don’t like hot weather, I’m not the least bit cowgirl, I don’t own a gun, and have I mentioned how I feel about heat? But almost immediately after I got here, I got very nostalgic for everything I’d left behind. I mainlined Friday Night Lights, started hoarding Whataburger ketchup and Shiner beer, and used any excuse to cram casually slip a mention of my heritage into every conversation I had.

Now that I’m pushing two years as a Yank, I’m still as obnoxiously Texan as ever (in fact, I’m about to let my Boston Magazine subscription lag so I can focus exclusively on Texas Monthly). But I feel another shift happening. The tug of New England is getting stronger and stronger. Sean recently noted that this could (in theory!) be our last summer in Boston (he graduates next May so we’ll be free to do as we please) and I started coming up with any excuse I could think of to prolong our time here. We still have so many trips to take (the Cape! Nantucket! Martha’s Vineyard! Quebec! Bar Harbor again!). Not to mention, it’d be silly to leave Boston during the glorious summertime. Or fall, for that matter. That’s when most people want to visit, after all.

Ultimately, we decided we weren’t going anywhere and stopped talking about it. But the thing is, I feel very drawn to both places now—for very, very different reasons. If you’ve never had the pleasure of living in one or the other, well, you don’t know what you’re missing.

texas_boots

  • Football, amateur flavor: Sure, New England has the Pats (and I’ve heard they’re pretty good) but any given Sunday ain’t got nothin’ on Friday night lights and Saturdays down south. You just can’t beat the hometown pride, the agony of watching your team struggle, or the joy of seeing a rival fail with flying colors. On Fridays and Saturdays, football is personal.
  • Earth-shaking thunderstorms: Billowing black clouds rolling across the sky, golf-ball size hail crashing into the windows, sheets of rain splashing against the pavement, rivers of water gushing down the street, sharp bolts of lightning cracking in the air, and thunder so loud it sets off car alarms. That’s what I call a storm.
  • “Ma’am” and “yes, please”: The last time I was home, I was treated so nicely at the grocery store that I told my story to anyone who would listen: “Then the checker opened up another register and apologized for making us wait in line even though there was only one person in front of us!” (The response was always something like “Yes, and?”)
  • Gut-bustingly good food: It wouldn’t’ve been fair to break this category out into its component parts—there’s just too much Blue Bell, barbecue, tacos, Whataburger, and chicken fried steak to mention.
  • Swagger: No other state plasters its flag to as many things as things Texas does. No other state is used as an adjective. And let’s be honest, no other state looks as good on a necklace. Plus, no other heritage gets you as much respect locally (“OOOH! A Texas driver’s license!?”) as it does abroad (“Hallo, Miss Texas!”).
  • Wide open roads: I’m going to let you in on a little secret: *whispers* I miss my car and doing 80 down a six-lane highway. (I also miss watching the central Texas sun set over a flat pasture as I cruise down a two-lane highway. Probably still doing 80.)

Boston_common_fall

  • Weekend trips: Drive an hour east of Boston and you’re on the Cape. Three hours west puts you in the Berkshires. An hour south takes you to Rhode Island; two hours later—Connecticut. Go an hour north and you’re in New Hampshire. Two hours more and you’re in Vermont or Maine, depending on your scenic pleasure. Have an extra day to kill? It’s only four hours to New York City and six to Montreal.
  • Scenery: Fiery leaves, rocky coastlines, stoic lighthouses, quaint covered bridges, windswept mountains, clapboard houses, cobblestone sidewalks, tree-lined highways, pastoral farmland—there’s literally nothing unattractive about this part of the country.
  • Trail blazing: It’s rather nice to live in a state that’s always been on the cutting edge of history. “Nationhood…the abolition of slavery…marriage equality—you’re welcome, America. Love, Massachusetts”
  • Seasons: Picture this: It’s the end of April. Everyone has been hibernating for the past four months. But today, it’s 65 degrees. The sun is bright, the trees are blooming pink and white, and parks are filled with people in sandals and sundresses. Now it’s July. Everything is lush and green, and you’re leaving work early for a long weekend at the beach. Enter October. The leaves have turned maroon and gold, the air is crisp, and people are practically skipping down the street in the boots they haven’t seen in six months. Which leads me to…
  • Snow: I don’t need to set any records, thanks, but I’m still convinced that winter and snow are MFEO. I love walking in flurries on my way home, watching fat flakes fall as I lay in bed, and marveling at pristine white streets before the plows scoop it all away. And yes, Virginia, I even appreciate a blizzard or two—strong enough to make me relish a steamy bowl of chili, a cozy blanket, and a cuddly cat.

TXlovesMA

One-year Yankees

one_year

It’s been exactly one year since Sean and I traded our chaps and ten-gallon hats for parkas and beanies. One year since we rolled into New England with a cat, two weeks’ worth of clothes, and no idea where we were going to live. One year since we began our new lives in Massachusetts. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the one year we’ve been here, it’s that moving thousands of miles away from home is capital H-A-R-D HARD.

I mean, sure, the first couple of months were like an extended vacation. We were homeless for all of March and half of April, living out of suitcases, and looking forward to finally moving into our townhouse in Boston, so even though we were working, we had no “normal.” Every day was a whirlwind of anticipation and excitement. (Plus, I’d be lying if I said I don’t have very fond memories of eating ramen and watching Redbox movies in our hotel room and hanging out with the friends who took us in.)

But once we got settled and reality set in, the whirlwind of excitement and anticipation turned into a vortex of loneliness and homesickness. I knew no one in the city and was working from home for the company I left behind. I spent all day every day wondering if my work friends were having fun without me and worrying that no one (except, I suppose, my BFF Layla) would notice if I melted right into the floor (because summer without A/C, y’all). When I wasn’t wringing my hands over various employment anxieties, I was praying I’d stop feeling like such an outsider and, if I’m being honest, counting down the days until I could go back home.

On the weekends, though, I was reminded why we moved here the the first place: easy access to at least eight states (and Canada!), incredibly beautiful scenery, and history absolutely everywhere. I got a new job around the six-month mark, which helped, albeit slowly—adjusting to new responsibilities and a new work environment isn’t easy. I had a fair number of bad days at the beginning, and they continued through the holidays (because family, y’all).

But I’m happy to report that within the past three months or so, I’ve noticed a major shift. I finally feel pretty comfortable in this Yankee life. I have friends other than my cat and a job that keeps me on my toes (instead of wrapped up in my head), and homesickness is blessedly rare at this point. Now, instead of looking forward to my next trip to Texas, I’m looking forward to visiting the Cape, camping in Maine, and spending cool summer evenings watching movies by the harbor.

I still feel like an outsider sometimes, but I’ve learned to appreciate it. I love that whenever I tell people I’m not from around here, I get to have really interesting conversations about our cultural differences. (And boy, are they distinct.) Plus, it’s much more exciting to meet up with fellow Aggies (and fellow Cowboys and Rangers fans) here, where our numbers are sparse, than it ever was in Dallas.

Massachusetts and Texas have almost nothing in common, and I love that I’m experiencing a life that’s so different from the one I’m used to. (Winters! I’ve never see so much snow! Public transportation! I’ve only driven four times since we’ve been here! Hockey! I don’t get it yet, but I want to try!) My perspective has changed quite a bit over the past year, and I’ve learned a lot about myself, about what I want out of life, and about what I absolutely don’t, and I’m looking forward to discovering even more as our journey here continues.