Little did I know that this week would come at a rather inconvenient time. It's been an intensely difficult school year so far, and it's about to get crazier with the addition of about eighty more students on my roster the Monday after I get back. I haven't had any time to really think about the trip at all or get excited about it. Honestly, I've felt rather guilty leaving when there's so much to do. Fortunately for me, I have a saint of a co-teacher at home who is earning some serious heaven points for covering for me while I'm gone. I owe him big.
The last time I was in the North East wasn't really all that far north. When I was in high school my family road-tripped to Washington DC. It was an amazing trip and my first real taste of a big city. I experienced a lot of firsts on that trip - my first time regularly "commuting" on public transport. My first encounter with a drunken passenger on said public transportation. My first time actually visiting a place I'd studied in school. Otherwise, although I've always been drawn to the North East (I grew up in the Gilmore Girls generation after all), I've never been there. And what better time to go than in the fall? When the North East is North Eastiest? And with my Marmee?
Day one was mostly travel for the both of us. My plane took off from the gate just next to the one I left from for England this summer. I could see the ghost of Joni past a few feet away and felt a little envious of her, because ENGLAND, but England will still be there next time I get there, and the shorter flight to Boston sounded way more appealing. Who wouldn't want to go to Boston in the fall?
For all my love of England, I have a great feeling of kinship to John Adams. Adams lived just outside of Boston in the city of Braintree. There is so much of his story I relate to - his open and obvious flaws but eternal desire to make things better for the world around him. He was passionate in the cause of justice. Of particular note was his defense of the British officers in the Boston Massacre. He was not particularly popular for this defense, but he was firm in his desire to establish America as a colony of civilization and equality. I admire his unwearying desire to follow his heart.
Then, of course, there are the Transcendentalists. My fascination began with, who else, but Louisa May Alcott. I am probably best known for my Anne of Green Gables or Harry Potter love, but I was every bit the Little Women obsessor as a child. I had the movie memorized. I related more to Anne - the tom-boyishness nature of Jo didn't appeal to me quite as much as a child - but I saw something of myself in Jo's somewhat bossy bookish and socially awkward nature. The older I get, though, the farther away Anne feels from me. She spent most of her (fictional) adulthood engaged or married to the dreamboat of Gilbert. Jo, though - Jo struggles as an adult. The life that had been so comfortable within the walls of her own home is more difficult when she leaves it. Finding her place in the world is tricky in a world that prescribes only one really acceptable path for a woman to follow. Her independent spirit and unconventional path are close to me. One of the dearest summers in my life was spent walking in the shoes of the fictional March family and studying the very real Alcotts on stage. The symbolism of visiting PEI when I was a wide-eyed almost college Freshman compared to visiting Concord as a perpetually boyfriendless nearly 30 something is not lost on me. It's like a passing of the torch.
I also feel a great kinship to those who came here in the first place, some of whom were my ancestors. William Bradford, the man credited for the thought behind the Mayflower Compact, is a direct ancestor of mine. Those early Puritans were far from perfect, but I admire their determination to create an environment where they could worship (even if I don't necessarily admire all the lengths to which they went to ensure that environment). In the same way that I've always been drawn to the UK, I've long wanted to come here. So many of my ancestors lived in New England that it feels like part of my genetic makeup, even though the total amount of time I've spent here now equates to approximately. . .five and a half hours.
Flying into the airport was delightful. I remember being in college and having my Arizonan roommates talk about how green Utah was and the midwestern roots that I have thinking they were crazy. Now that my parents live in Arizona I understand why they thought Utah was green. I still feel sad for them, though - anytime I fly into a city that's as green as this one I feel like the world gets a little better. Utah has its beauties but I do miss the green. When that green is coupled with flecks of bright red, yellow and orange? Exquisite.
Mom and I met up in the airport and, using public transportation navigational skills I've been honing to perfection for the last decade, we ditched the Uber idea and took the bus and train to the southern part of the city where we walked through the streets of Dorchester to our home for the week. Now, in addition to my coveting of the trees, I am coveting every house I can see. Who the heck ever thought it was a good idea to make every house look so freakishly practical? I want to buy all.the.houses. I also want to take pictures of all of them. Hope the locals don't mind!
After getting home we dropped off our bags and walked the quarter mile or so into Addam's Square to find dinner and a convenience store to pick up food for breakfast. We ended up finding all that we needed in an Irish cafe that sold meat pies and a whole range of British necessities at killer prices. What with the Caramel Digestives and Irish porridge and the Big Bang Theory/Have I Got News For You TV binge mom and I had tonight, I may as well be back in Europe. Come to find out that the local convenience store also had a huge supply of my favorite England treats - a delightful surprise that, perhaps, shouldn't have been. As my brother pointed out, it is New England.
Tomorrow is supposed to rain all day so we'll head to church then hole ourselves away into the southern part of town and the local art museums. Given that church is at 9:00 and about a 20 minute drive (and two hours earlier than my body clock puts it at about 7:00), you should know how much I love my mother. If I were traveling by myself I'd probably ditch the church idea, sleep in, and watch a devotional while I ate breakfast instead. But my mother is an amazing woman. The chance to travel alone with her is such a gift, that if mom says she wants to go to church in the morning, then we go to church in the morning.