What is it about leaving something that makes it seem all the sweeter? Ever since I knew I was leaving, I have been conducting a love affair with Boston, one that has involved candlelit dinners, walks down Newbury Street with smiles for each budding spring flower, and sighs of appreciation and nostalgia for every favorite corner, haunt, and quirk about this city that I have lived in for ten years.
After all, thanks to Skype and the fact that calls from Pakistan to the US are only two cents a minute, I can keep in pretty good touch with all the people I love while I’m gone. But I can’t stroll over to Devlin’s for the juicy bacon cheddar burger, and I can’t go to the Public Garden to sit on the brass ducks or make fun of people for going to the “Cheers” bar. I can’t sneak my favorite Cuban sandwich from Yawkey Way into the fancy Fenway seats upstairs before the game starts. I can’t get all excited about ivy on brick buildings, or order pad zeeyou from one of the three excellent Thai restaurants around my house. I can’t go down to Daisy Buchanan’s to sing “The Piano Man” during last call (or to borrow their plunger in the middle of a very crowded Christmas party when we realize we don’t have one). I can’t take Boston with me.
Yesterday is a perfect example of this recent love affair. I spent the day with one of my dearest friends doing a bunch of great Boston things. There was a little Newbury Street, a little trafficky Mass Pike, a little Waterfront, a little Boylston, even a little Coolidge Corner at the end. We started with brunch at Flour, one of those places whose glass case is so crammed with pastries and buns and cakes of irresistible variety that you have to get several of them and just stuff yourself. Then we hit the Shepard Fairey exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art which was fun because his artwork has been appearing all over the streets of Boston ever since I moved here (way before he was a fancy-pants ICA exhibitor) and because I wanted to see the original Obama “Hope” poster in person. It’s as cool as you might imagine.
I also did something I’ve been wanting to do for three years. We went to Bodega, a sneaker shop downtown that masquerades as a neighborhood convenience store and whose address was a closely guarded secret for years. Stacks of Diet A&W root beer and bags of chips for .50 cents crowd a small, dusty shop that gives way, Open Sesame style, to a showroom with twenty foot ceilings, track lighting on rich wooden shelves, and rows and rows of special edition sneakers. I don’t know anything about sneakers (although Turtle is my favorite character on Entourage), but anything that has zero advertising, cheap snacks, and a secret door sounds good to me.
After finding my pair of Puma Clydes in a shade of what has alternatively been described to me as “seafoam” “lime” or “mint” (none of those quite gets it right), I decided I am finally ready to go to Pakistan. I have found Bodega, seen Obama, grabbed the perfect fitting green sneaker, and have finally come to the tail end of my month-long tour of this city I love. It’s time to say goodbye, or at least see you later. I guess you could say that Islamabad has some serious shoes to fill. (Yeah, I went there with the metaphor. You liked it.)