Sunday, August 3, 2014

Beantown and the Big Apple: Days -1 and 1

Just a warning: I forgot to take pictures on my phone of these events, so this is a big ol' wall of text.

            You may remember that a year and some months ago, I went to Seattle with my hetero life partner Pat. I wrote about it, causing the blog to actually eclipse 10 posts on the year. (yaaaay). BUT. I haven’t done a travelogue since then and that’s mostly because I haven’t travelled anywhere notable or new or even fun to hear about. Sorry Backbone State Park, Iowa.
            Now, though, I’m currently with my girlfriend in Boston, Massachusetts, home of the Celtics and Hard To Spell Statehoods. It’s pretty great, but we’ve got to start from the beginning, or else this whole thing is messed up. I didn’t wake up in Boston, of course, I woke up in Chicago. But of course, I’m not from Chicago. I’m from Iowa, which, instead of the Celtics and Other Thing I Said, is home to Pablo’s Burritos and [INSERT LOCAL REFERENCE HERE].
            Yesterday, I woke up at the bright eyed time of 10:00am and drove to the bright lights big city of Chicago. It was a fun, full drive. It had everything; twisting roads, cute little towns, and GIANT RAINSTORMS THAT COME OUT OF NOWHERE AND BLIND YOU. Seriously, these rainstorms, folks. I was driving and would think “Oh, maybe I should turn the wipers on” and suddenly I can’t see. My wipers on the car have three speeds; Okay, So We’re Going; What, It’s Actually Raining?; and Oh My Goodness, It’s Quite A Spell Out There!  Turns out that third speed isn’t fast enough for the rainstorms that decided to visit the Chicagoland Freeway. I would turn from the first to the third and not see anything more except the bright lights of cars slamming on their brakes in front of me.
            I’m so, so, so freaking glad I have a newish car with even newisher brakes to handle stopping correctly because I’m pretty sure my old one would have plowed through many an abrupt stop in the same way it did the gentle stop of an icy four way intersection. Because, though Chicago drivers may think that they’re the Bee’s Knees and/or Cat’s Pajamas, they really don’t know how to drive in heavy rain. Though, to be fair, being blinded by water from On High really throws us all for a loop.
            Speaking of Loop, here’s my story.
            Speaking of story, back to the story.
            I made it to Chicago and didn’t make an entry then because that entry would have consisted of under five hundred words which is just silly. What am I, Buzzfeed? Or Ernest Hemmingway? So instead I drank expensive beer at the cost of my brother, ate expensive pork chops at the cost of me, and went to sleep at the cost of my mental health because holy crap guys, weird travelling dreams.
            Then I woke up at 5:30, and got ready for the day. That’s right, the same time that old people get to McDonalds, I arrived on the scene of consciousness. It was all because of a flight from Midway Airport, a flight that I and my girlfriend arrived at fashionably and comfortably early. Responsibility is the most attractive of attributes.
            Even when we went through the security, we were still early. I say that as having a TSA agent yell at me because I misunderstood what “back up” means, taking it to mean “step away from that thing you were doing” when in reality it apparently means “step back towards that thing you were doing”. To add insult to injury, I forgot that a giant can of aerosol shaving cream actually does count as aerosol, so I had to have that same tired-of-this-bullshit agent yell at me while she threw that away. But we were still early.
            Like, so early, that we both took turns peeing, I got McDonalds, and drank most of my coffee before we started boarding. That’s called responsibility. Until I threw my coffee in what I now realize was a boarding pass recycling can. That’s called staining the future.
            But you didn’t come here for Chicago antics, you came for Boston antics.
            Yeah, that’s right, I went to Kansas City first. You may realize this as the opposite direction of Boston from Chicago, and you’re right. Airlines don’t make any sense, just ask [INSERT LOCAL REFERENCE HERE]. We went to KC, and as everyone, save 5 of us, got off at that stop, I remained on the plane. Then, with the knowledge that the gate we were stored at was the Starbucks slash actual bathroom gate, the other four on the plane left me, including my girlfriend. So, I was the only person on that plane. I thought about running up and down the aisle, recording my silliness for all to see, but instead I looked at Twitter. Thanks, Obama.
            Then, it was on to Boston.
            Guys, remember how plane rides make me super poetic and overdramatic? Well, those rides I wrote about were at night, which certainly heighten the “Let’s quote F. Scott Fitzgerald” quality of air travel. But instead, I felt something else poetic.
            Instead of the Green Light on East Egg of the previous flight, I felt something else. In the light of day, you can see all the roads beneath you as you pass over them as quickly as a thought.
            Basically, it’s like this to me; It’s like being a God that’s omnipresent but not omnipotent. You can see a cloud and its shadow and know that somewhere in that shadow, a man stands, wiping his brow, thankful for the sudden relief from the heat, but you’ll never know his name or what he was doing. You can see innumerable high school football fields and know that they’re full of thousands of first kisses each, or hands held underneath blankets while their breath steams in front of them, but you’ll never know either partner, nor will you even know the teams that played that night.
            Planes give you this great observation level, able to see all that passes in front of you, but also create just as great of an obstruction to learning. You’ll never learn a lesson from flying in plane, unless that lesson is how North Eastern states have a Metes and Bounds system instead of the rectangular Public Land Survey System of the Northwest Ordinance. You’ll instead learn that life is the same everywhere, even if you’ll never know that life or that lesson.
            We landed quickly after that, of course, my mind full of racing pseudo-philosophical thoughts. Boston, we’ve learned, has an easily traversed public transit system. The subway we took from the airport station to the transfer station had many people on it, and none of them were speaking English. Isn’t that awesome? Like, even after we transferred to a more Boston-specific line, there was no discussed English to be heard. There’s so many different cultures in Boston that its public transport is multi-cultural. This may seem a no-brainer to the two readers I have outside of Iowa, but that blows my mind.
            Once we got here, though, we immediately set off for Things To Do. You may recognize this pattern as the one we employed in Seattle, but this was a little more controlled. Namely, that we promised each other not to do what I’d done in Seattle.
            The biggest things I’ve learned about Boston are this;
            1. Boston is a city of monuments. Every corner has some significance of one sort or another. The Boston Gardens (beautiful, by the way) are rich with statues dedicated to all sorts of people. Artists, abolitionists, Founding Fathers--- Boston is crazy about these folks. I was especially surprised at the Civil War monuments, seeing as you never really think about Massachusetts having a huge impact on the war. There’s many things to tell you you’re wrong about that, sometimes in a negative way. One includes a monument dedicated to the white officers and the black regiments they lead. Because it was put up immediately after the war, the monument celebrates mainly the white men that helped the poor slaves along the way. In addition, one statue celebrates a man as “The Friend of the Slave”. Sometimes we forget that putting something in stone isn’t only an honor, but also an invitation to the future to take a mild amount of offense to our wording.
            2. Boston is a city of confusion. Never expect streets in Boston to make any sense whatsoever. This town grew organically, which may be a bonus to some and a warning to others. Only the loosest grid system can be said to exist, with stops consisting of two one-way streets, or normal intersections where all the walk signs are on at once without warning. If you walk along a Boston street, each block will be vastly different. This is exciting for an urban explorer, but very intimidating for an urban returner, coming back from a simple walking trip.
            3. I don’t have a third, but lists are supposed to have third, so I’ll include my next point here. The place I’m staying, Back Bay? It was supposedly just plain gross water until Boston decided to fill the whole thing in, and now it’s one of the most central and expensive districts in all of Boston. You can tell because the whole place is brownstone. If the Cosby family lived in Boston instead, they’d live in this neighborhood.
            I’m not trying to brag. In fact, let me complain for a little bit, because every single thing I order or buy costs more than five dollars. You know how people want to get rid of the penny? I’m wouldn't be surprised if Bostonians want to get rid of the single dollar bill. Stuff’s expensive everywhere, man.
            That being said, my girlfriend and I made it a point to walk as much as possible today. Boston Commons is beautiful, of course. Full of green, overlong grass that you’re not allowed to step on, swan boats, and wedding parties getting their picture taken directly in the way of traffic.
            Still, we made it out from that mess, and found a bar we enjoyed. Beantown Pub, it read, in full ‘look, drink here’ fashion. I had two beers, and a third. I differentiate the third because it was worth $6.50 on its own and was maybe the only beer I’ve ever known to be worth that much. Holy god, guys. Wow. Harpoon IPA Citrus Victorious- I’ll be your advertising spokesman. I read the classification of the beer and was put off- citrus and IPA don’t seem to go together very well. But apparently they’re the peanut butter and jelly of beer.
            So, we finished that beer and went back to our hotel, the sun fully set. We pee, put on real shoes, and take a dip down to the hotel bar slash restaurant slash hotel. Drinks abound and I realize something: Boston is such an old man town. I don’t see anyone at this hotel but old men, talking to each other.
            It isn’t until my girlfriend talks to an apparent regular that I found out that this bar is a gay bar, and suddenly everything clicks into place, and it’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to go to a gay bar, and apparently they’re much cleaner, quieter, and friendlier. Dudes know how to have a night life. Fun times ahead in that timeline. Even if my girlfriend ordered two shots and got the equivalent of five shots of rum. Guess who ended up drinking four shots worth of rum? This guy.

            So! Tomorrow is another day as everyone but you says. Goodbye. I may have been literally falling asleep as I wrote this.

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