I leave for Boston in two days.
I’ve wanted to visit this particular city for a long time now—right about eight years or so. It’s always held a certain light in the distance to me, as if it’s the epitome of discovery, the lighthouse of our nation. I’m sure that idea has a lot to do with it being such an old, historic place (and maybe a little unfortunate bit of Augustana lyrics).
For one reason or another, I’ve been drawn to the place. The early colonial settlements. The nearby Salem Witch Trials. The cobblestone—if there actually is cobblestone there. It’s the center of a region that smells of gunpowder smoke. It’s fog rolling in from the docks. It’s lantern light, ale, and people on horseback.
One of the novels I wrote in college features a modern character who has such a strange blood illness that he has to travel to Massachusetts to visit a once-celebrated hematologist. The now-insane blood specialist used to work in Boston, but after the failures of a few of his more unorthodox experiments, he was estranged from the community and forced to move back to his hometown in Salem.
Another story I once developed has to do with a ghost boy who roams the streets of old Boston and spends a lot of time around a historic cemetery now called Copp’s Hill.
They’re both still in the works. The problem with these stories is that I never got a chance to actually visit these places. But now I do.
I went through a really bad breakup when I was twenty-two. It had been a long-standing sort of relationship, the kind you think will be forever because it lasted five or six years, so you do everything you can to keep the body on life support long after the soul is gone, whatever it takes to keep the corpse reanimated; severe co-dependency at it’s finest.
But when that was over, the only thing I wanted to do was go to Boston. I wanted to pack up my things, make the drive, and make it work. No job, no bed, no plan, just go and survive as if it were my own version of a rite of passage into manhood. It wouldn’t exactly be surviving the wilderness, no, but still, cities are nothing but concrete jungles full of animals of the most dangerous nature. I would’ve lived in my truck if I had to—anything to escape where I was and prove myself to myself, to keep alive the idea that I was still good and self-sufficient enough to keep living.
What did I expect to find? At worst, nothing. At best, what, myself?
I’ll never know, because I never went. I almost did a couple times, but life found ways to keep that from happening. I guess I just wasn’t ready, but now I am. Because the stars have finally aligned and everything is working out. I don’t know what I expect from this trip now—certainly none of the things I was hoping for six years ago. I’ve already escaped where I was, even if it was only mentally and emotionally. I am good enough. I am self-sufficient enough. I know now that I do deserve to be alive.
I have nothing to find there but a good time, and nothing to take away from the experience but memories, photos, and maybe a couple souvenirs. Maybe this is a lot of what growing up is all about: confidence in self, contentment in circumstances, etc., etc…
Cobblestones. Each of these, cobblestones.
There’s no need to run because there’s nothing to run to, and nothing to run from. You can’t find yourself out there, because you aren’t out there. You’re right here, and so am I.
No, I reckon I don’t expect much else but to enjoy myself, and honestly I wouldn’t want to travel in any other way.