Something struck me last week as I was riding the bus to work and reading Colson Whitehead’s “The Colossus of New York”. In his collection of vignettes about New York City he writes, “everybody remembers the city. Some people the city remembers.” For some reason his words struck me and got me thinking – Which cities remember me? I remember all the cities I’ve lived in, but I’m guessing that only a choice few remember me.
Obviously Portland remembers me and is now getting to know me again. I mean how could it forget the girl who danced (sans a respectable amount of clothing) in its Salmon Street Fountain on her 21st birthday after consuming one too many jello shots at the Lotus.
But I know I haven’t left an impression like that everywhere I’ve lived. I know Pebble Beach doesn’t remember me. That’s where I learned the art of being present, but not seen. And I’d be surprised if Bridgeport even recognized my face. I slipped in and out of that town like I was Keyser Soze.
Boston will never forget me. I may not have had a fountainesque moment on its streets, but let’s just say I got around. No not in that way, but living without a car really forces you to get to know a city and for the city to get to know you. But if I had to choose one moment when I knew for sure that the city, in this story represented by the T conductor, took notice it would have to be one warm morning last summer. I knew I was running late, but when I heard the train rumble into the station as I was standing on the other side of a four-lane street and at the top of dozens of stairs I knew I was pushing it. After a split-second thought-process I went for it. As I rounded the bottom of the stairs (the first chance I would get to see if the train was still there) I was excited to see it was, but that it was already lurching forward. Ah, but the door was still open so I just kept on running.
Now these doors are kind of tricky. There’s a gap between the platform and the stairs that lead up to the ground floor of the train, which has this trap door kind of thing that the conductor closes when the train starts moving. So as I leapt on to the moving train (in heels no less), hoping I wouldn’t miss and fall under the train and onto the tracks, I looked up to see the conductor closing the trap door. Fortunately I startled him enough that he froze and didn’t drop the steel plate on my head. Instead he grabbed my arm and pulled me up. At that moment the city’s rhythm merged with mine and though we’d been dancing around each other for years, we truly took notice of each other.
That gets under your skin. That makes you miss it even in winter when all you’re hearing about are bitterly cold days and snow drifts the size of large dogs. That (even 3000 miles away) can make you feel the sting of the wind that comes off the harbor and gets under every layer of clothing covering your body (so many layers that you didn’t think you’d be able to pull your pants over them or get your arms through them). That freezes every last inch of your body’s fluids so that you take an hour or more to thaw out once you get inside. That when your new hometown is experiencing some its lowest temperatures of the season you (who hates the cold like it was the devil) can walk around the block without a coat on and get funny looks from others who are bundled up like its the Arctic. That causes you to wonder (only for a split second mind you) if they’re on to something with this love of Dunkin Donuts coffee. That makes you wish it was baseball season 365 days a year.
I’m still in shock to be sure, but there’s no denying that the Red Sox were just crowned World Series Champions!
This was an amazing season. I attended my last home game in August with Andrew, Kaitlyn and Amy just before moving back to Portland. It was a magical night with the first pitch being tossed by new Celtic Kevin Garnett. Little did we know that it was just the beginning of an amazing three month stretch of highs and lows.
It wouldn’t have been the Red Sox without a couple scares – first from the Yankees as they nearly caught up with our regular season record and then from the Indians when we were down 3-1 in the ALCS and had to win three games in a row to make it to the World Series. But with players like personal favorites Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell it now seems destined that we would win baseball’s biggest prize just three years after the groundbreaking 2004 season.
It was hard being thousands of miles away from the heart of Red Sox Nation, but I found my own little outpost here in Portland. A few die hard Sox fans even renamed Portland to “Boston, Oregon” for the Series in honor of current Red Sox player Jacoby Ellsbury and former Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky who are both from Oregon, of legend Bobby Doerr who lives here now so he can flyfish along the Rogue River, and the fact that Portland was almost named Boston (in 1845 the town was named Portland after Maine native Francis Pettygrove won a coin toss against Boston native Asa Lovejoy).
I have to agree with Jonathan Papelbon who referred to this year’s team as the bedazzlers – it was a bedazzling season for sure! Go Sox! (photo – Boston Globe)
We can all rest a little easier tonight, at least until Saturday when they head back to Fenway, ’cause the Red Sox beat the Indians tonight to stay alive in the ALCS . I was dressed from head to foot in Red Sox gear… even down to my toes in the Red Sox slippers on my feet. As Kaitlyn said – when we were enjoying our post-game celebratory phone call breaking down Francona’s decisions – it must have been the slippers.
The most frequent question I got before I left Boston was… What are you going to miss?
The most frequent question I get now that I’m in Portland is… How’s the new job?
I facilitated my first public meeting last night and am spearheading a proposal for a new project at an historic hazelnut farm in Eugene – so that’s been amazing. I love the office and the work we’re doing and being downtown and being back in Portland… there’s such an energy in the office and in this city. But I’d forgotten what it feels like to be the new kid. Sometimes I feel like everything is coming together, but often I feel like a fish out of water. Everything is familiar, but not entirely clear. I just have to learn to be patient, let the whole experience unfold, and savor every moment. Pretty soon I’ll be so immersed in the work that I’ll have forgotten what this exciting new moment feels like.