Boston = Culture

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Boston…again.  I have really come to see the city has my home more and more, and while Charlotte is and will always be my Hometown, Boston may be my home.   But anyways…Dad and I flew up on Wednesday to see a Sox game with Dan and Diesel.  A fall trip to Boston for a Sox game has become somewhat of a ritual for my dad, and it’s nice that we get to continue that since Dan is a freshman and all.  While the Sox may not be in the playoffs this year (still not mathematically eliminated yet though) Fenway is always a good time.  Shootin’ the breeze, enjoying a few beers and a hot dog or two on a warm fall night…I love it.  Seeing Dan was good too I’ll admit.  I love listening to his adjustment to BC, and his experiences take me back to my own just 4 years ago.  He is having difficulty figuring out how to get all of his reading done.  I’m sure he’ll figure it out soon enough that you don’t actually do all of the reading!  So this was day 1 of culture.

Thursday came early, and I had to make the trek from Revere where my dad’s hotel was all the way out to Chestnut Hill.  A long journey, especially during rush hour traffic.  But I would be rewarded with a beautiful New England day (although a bit warm).  I spent several hours hanging around the Chocolate Bar, the Eagles Nest, and Campus Ministry…all of my favorite haunts!  There were lots of good conversations with people I haven’t seen in a while, and its nice to see that even as time passes there is still much to talk about.  I hit a point in the afternoon where I felt like it was time to head on.  Being in the Eagle’s Nest for 4 hours is quite long enough.   So I hopped the B-line down to Packard’s Corner where I would be spending the night on Mara’s couch.  The cultural part of day 2 was coming.  The two of us cooked dinner before heading downtown.  Several months ago Mara had asked if I wanted to see Wicked.  We both have a taste for musicals, and she knew that my answer would be yes…it would simply be a matter of finding a mutually convenient time to see it.   We scooted down to the Opera House, and took our seats in the 4th row.  I had left Mara to the seat purchasing, and she had decided it would be best to spring for the front…I mean, how often do you get to do that?  Wicked was fantastic, as I had expected.  I remember seeing it two years ago when it was in Boston, and I had a similar impression as I left this time.  It is such a well done production that you leave the theater and simply want to see it again.  That was day 2.

Friday.  Woke up around 9:30 and made the brief walk to Dunkin for breakfast.  I love Dunkin Donuts.  It is a fantastic place full of deliciousness.  After my standard egg and cheese on a wheat bagel with a hot black coffee I packed up my things from Mara’s place to make the trip back out to BC for a lunch date with Colleen.  Spent several hours again in the Eagle’s Nest and again visited many more people from my BC life.  One of my favorite things to do while at BC was to wander into Fr. Don’s office and simply sit on his couch.  I didn’t even really need to have any reason for being there, but there would always be something going on with Padre.  So I went down to his office and was put to work helping the SOA group with their t-shirts.  About this time my mother showed up since after all this was parents’ weekend.  She and Dan were on their way to visit Newton and his dorm room.  I wasn’t going with him, because I had already seen it and who really goes to Newton?

Later that evening was the standard Pops on the Heights with the Boston Pops.  (culture!)  It was another good concert, but I don’t think it will ever be able to top sophomore year when John Williams conducted…you just really can’t do better than that.  But we enjoyed ourselves.  The woman who was the singer accompaniment in the second half was alright.  But then she became great when she improved a love song to Boston.  She invited suggestions from the audience as to what she should sing about.  Eventually she noticed that the Chorale was trying to say something.  She asked the rest of us to be quiet and the Chorale was able to get out “Mary Ann’s” as something she should sing about.  And so the woman improved a love song to Mary Ann…she might have been the only one in Conte Forum who did not know that Mary Ann’s was the BC dive bar!  We all had a good laugh, and I’m sure she did too once someone informed her of Mary Ann’s existence as BC’s watering hole.

Saturday was BC football. Tailgating was awesome!  As it usually is.  And that’s all I’m going to say about Saturday…

And Sunday I came home…back to my life in Charlotte as a student and employee of the YMCA.

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Travel Pass

Jim, my step-dad, works for US Airways as a pilot. One of the greatest perks of working for a major airline is the travel pass. You, the employee, your spouse, your parents, and your dependents are all allowed to be on the travel pass. About 10 years ago I was added to the travel pass, and that has allowed me to travel anywhere US Airways goes for free provided that there is an empty seat on the plane. I have only ever missed one flight that caused me to be stuck in an airport over night. There is a website we can use to look at the number of passengers on each flight so that we can choose what flights we’re more likely to get a seat on. This privilege was incredibly useful as a student at BC, because it made traveling back and forth between Charlotte and Boston fairly easy. It is something I don’t have to book in advance, and that I can change in a moment depending on where I want to go. The travel pass enabled me to get to St. Louis freshman year for hockey; same for Denver sophomore year. I flew to San Francisco last winter for BC vs. USC. In addition to many sporting events I have been able to visit many places and many friends because of the travel pass. As I move into the last few weeks of life in the states, I have started using it to visit friends from college as well as friends from JVC. I went to Philadelphia a few times this summer. I’ve been to Boston twice in the last few weeks with several plans to go back over the next few.

Two weekends ago I went to Milwaukee to visit Tony, Meghan, Cat, Andy, and Adrianna. All of us are in that same state of limbo with one foot solidly planted in our home towns with our families and our cultures, and another foot slightly off the ground in anticipation of the journey we are set to embark upon. It’s not something we have consciously chosen, having our second foot off the ground that is, just something that is natural as we come closer to our departure dates. But, Milwaukee…what a fun city. Maybe Milwaukee isn’t all that fun, but when you have the right people everything is fun. We were staying at Megan’s place in Wawatosa just outside of the city. We were lucky, it was the weekend of ‘Tosa fest which meant things in the small suburb of Milwaukee were swinging…sorta. Friday night we started at the fest before moving downtown for a brewery tour. Now you might have guessed a Miller tour, but since Milwaukee is somewhat of a beer hub we went for the bit classier and definitely tastier Water Front Brewery followed by dinner downtown. One of the best parts of all of this was that everything seemed natural…as though we’d been friends much longer than the 8 weeks we had known each other. (Especially odd given that we’d hadn’t seen each other in 6 weeks) Conversation was easy, and we were all looking for a chance to connect with others in similar life positions. One more things about Milwaukee…they had a kite flying festival with world renowned kite flyers. Talk about a legit city. And many of you may be thinking that kites aren’t that cool…but let me set you straight. These kites were awesome. The pilots (is that what you call one who flies a kite?) could make their kites do anything. And there was even a kite ballet of sorts! It was just plain crazy…

Last weekend I flew out to LA to visit Carolyn and other Boston College JVs. It was an impromptu decision of sorts thanks to the travel pass mentioned above. Of all the traveling I’ve done, I think this was one of the more difficult trips. Flying east coast to west coast for a 48 hour visit is tough…the time change gets you, the long flights get you. It’s just all around a taxing trip. But seeing Carolyn in her new habitat was worth it. She lives with 4 other JVs and they showed me just how small the Jesuit community is across the country. One of her roommates went to school and was friends with Mateo (one of my community mates in Peru) and another was in the same frat at Creighton with Greg (JV going to Tacna, Peru)…and there were undoubtedly other connections. I won’t go too much into Carolyn’s home and work placements because she does it in much more depth in her own blog which is linked on the right hand side of this blog.

The draw back to the travel pass is that I never have a guaranteed seat assignment and there is no way to be sure to get on a flight. This was made quite clear to me on the way home from LA. I had to be back for my Dad’s 50th birthday which means I had to jump through several hurdles to be sure that happened. I won’t go into too many details, but my flight path back to Charlotte was: LA to Phoenix, Phoenix to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Charlotte taking more than 12 hours to get back home.

I just spent the last 5 days in Boston, and I’ll detail that a bit later…this is enough for now, and anyways my plane to Charlotte is getting ready to board and I do have a seat!