We had a lovely week in Boston. We did, as intended, go to the Universal Centre of Knowledge (aka The Dana-Farber Cancer Center), but I will write about that another time – it was fine. After the long drive to Boston and a few vehicular encounters with Boston drivers, we decided to walk to the hospital, The picture above is the sight that greeted us as we crossed the BU Bridge. Land of my birth! Chilly temple to the wonder of knowledge and frozen nature!
Afterwards, we had to process having jumped through yet another hoop in the steeplechase of life with cancer. It was a beautiful fall day, so we walked to the Museum of Fine Arts, where our friend Ned was kind enough to lend us his membership card, and the museum was kind enough to have an exhibit comparing Japan’s leading contemporary artist with its grand legacy of artistic genius as represented in the MFA’s collection. Basically, this was my exhibit. An exploration of the Japanese love of expressiveness, playfulness, and nature.
We got to catch up a little with a select grouping of wonderful old friends. Lately I’ve come to the realization that friends make us who we are. Sometimes this includes friends that we haven’t even spoken to in over a decade. Still, we spent important times with them, they said things to us that registered, and now they are part of who we are, even if we have not managed to keep them in our lives in the same way. We got to reconnect with our friends Kathryn and Ned, who hosted us, and to see how their children have miraculously become teenagers, even if they will always be adorable children in our heads.
After breakfast at Flour and a walk around Harvard Square, we headed west toward home. We revisited the steps of the Unitarian Church, where we met up for our first fateful date.
Then we drove towards home, stopping for lunch at my spiritual home: Books You Don’t Need in a Place You Can’t Find. I never leave without buying a book. Unlike my husband the amazing reader, I do not always read the book that I buy. I think there are still novels languishing on a shelf from my last trip. But the fiction room is not to be resisted. It is a holy place. I still remember the unexpected partial solar eclipse that I witnessed there with Abbie in May 1994.
After lunch we continued on Route 2 to our stopping place, Porches Inn in North Adams, across the street from Mass MOCA, which recently has expanded to become one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums. We arrived in time for a very short tour of the museum. I wish I could tell you that it was as enchanting as the exhibit on eugenics that The Historian and I saw on our first visit to Mass MOCA in that we saw when we first went to Mass MOCA decades ago, or that I have a glimmer of a clue as to what contemporary art is, but I do love the large spaces and the possibilities for displaying art.
And if you are on steroids and can’t sleep at 5 am at Porches you can go over to the lobby and read in a red leather chair next to a fireplace until your husband wakes up to enjoy a lovely breakfast with you. The room decor may be a little spare, but the buildings are forged from old row houses that used to be occupied by mill workers, making it possibly the most preciously and unabashedly me place that exists in the world. Must come back and bring the children.
If you happen to need a cup of coffee in North Adams, go to Brew Haha and enjoy the signs at the register advertising “Pretty Good Brownies” and, “Please be advised that our house salad is our most popular dish, and ‘Dressing on the side’ is NOT an option because it totally misrepresents our salad.'” I’m too old to fight it. Oh, New England, be not a stranger to me.
How odd to think that we are now old enough to step back into our grown-up past. We reminisced about when we lived in Boston, in our 20s and early 30s, we were learning to be adults/professionals/married people. We had real challenges, and we got through them by becoming ourselves and leaning on all of the great people and things that supported us. Now we’re in the wilderness of the beginning of Middle Age.