Massachusetts is one place I have seen

in which I spend most of a week in Boston and have almost no pictures to show for it.

I used to live here. What a dreary, rainy day.

There’s really not much to say for my time in Boston, time that was spent agreeably catching up with various friends. I arrived on a Thursday afternoon, which began a flurry of readjustment to life in the USA. Whenever I return to the US, I always fondly remember Bill Bryson’s book title, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, a book I read last summer as I embarked on a trip covering that grand middle of the country that has been and technically still is “home” (who knows, perhaps it will be again in the future). The title couldn’t be more apt for reentry. All the sudden, everything that should be familiar seems eerily strange, and there was something somewhat ironic about my reintroduction being at the hands of a British citizen. This time round, I am happy to say at least my English wasn’t screwed up (as apparently it was last time I came back from the Fatherland). But at any rate, after the long flight, I was most happy to be picked up at the airport and taken back to Cambridge.

This time round, the biggest shock came at the grocery store, a place I have historically found to be one of the most shocking aspects of life upon reentry. There is something that feels sheer wrong about the size of the typical American grocery store. I had never been to the branch of Shaw’s before, but luckily I was prepped ahead of time to know that it would seem small at first, and then it would just open up. The shock, however, was less in the form of the grocery store itself and more in the form of prices. As a result of my independent residence being entirely outside the US (yes, at 23, I have never so much as sub-leased an apartment for a summer in the US), I had never been in a habit of being particularly affected by the price of groceries. Sure, I had been shopping with my mother in the past, but buying for 7 is a different game, and besides, I was never paying for those groceries. And I had been shopping in college, but only for special occasions. And let’s just say, I find the US sort of expensive in comparison to Germany.

But enough on that and back to my adventures. My first full day was spent pretty much doing nothing. And it was wonderful. I caught up on TV, made plans to meet up with people over the weekend and on Monday and Tuesday, and more or less ignored the world. Saturday was a bit more exciting. I finally made it to one of the Boston breweries, to the Harpoon one, which lets you sample as much of their various beers as you can drink in half an hour or so. And then we wandered around in South Boston, before calling it a day–it was rather cold out, and returning back to Cambridge.

Sunday was Palm Sunday, and I went to church with Jessa, before she treated me to a nice lunch in Beacon Hill. It was great to catch up, see how she was doing. She had survived her thesis and seemed to be returning to normal, which was good to see.

Monday began the marathon of Harvard visits. I started off with one of my favourite people from Harvard, my old boss, Hugh. Thinking it would be far more fun to drop in out of the blue than to arrange a meeting, and remembering he is reasonably easy to find, I headed over to the library, and noting that his lights were on and his coat was there, I deduced he had just headed upstairs for lunch. And indeed, I was right. Completely unaware that I was on this side of the pond, he was naturally shocked to see me. And we chatted for a long time about all sorts of things before he finally had to be responsible and get back to work. I focused on my next victim, dropping in on my thesis advisor, since I wanted to bring him a bit of chocolate and a thank you note for his help with recommendations. I hadn’t expected to stay a while, but I left some 45 minutes later, leaving me with a bit of time before catching up with Gulnora, my Uzbek teacher, and then Meghan, a college friend who lived in Berlin when I was there and is now L2 at Harvard Law. Tuesday carried on in much the same way–I went to a class so that I could ensure I would meet up with the professor I used to work for, and we caught up afterwards. And then, with a bit of time to spare, I set off on a walk through a very rainy Cambridge, an exercise I found somehow enjoyable. I had lunch with Daniel, who lived across the hall from my my senior year, which was followed by a trip over to Leverett dining hall, where I found Manjari, my tutor (sort of alike a resident advisor, except a PhD (or post-PhD) student), and caught up a bit over coffee. It was wonderful to see her, though I did feel a bit like I was keeping her from her work. It was a bit weird to be back in Leverett–the dining hall looked completely different, as they had replaced the old hideously ugly painting with one done by an acquaintance of mine. Dare I say it looked comparatively classy? Stressing comparative, of course, Leverett was never one of Harvard’s better dining halls…

I moved on, had coffee with Roy, a Harvard friend from various history classes, and then ran into Naa, whom I hadn’t seen since I visited her in Paris at the beginning of her year abroad and at the and of mine. And then, I picked up Tom from work, and we went to a dinner for Jessa’s birthday. It was great to see a couple more people there, whom I would have otherwise missed.

The birthday crowd.

But unfortunately, that marked the end of my stint in Boston. It had been wonderful to be back, but all good things must come ot an end, and the next morning, it was on to the next adventure, and as such, I headed off to the airport, happily not unaccompanied, and by mid-afternoon, I found myself at “home” in Columbus.

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