February 24, 2017 (Friday)

by Yule Heibel on February 23, 2018

E. leaves today. We’ll drive her to the airport at 12:30 or so. It’s an international flight, so I guess we should be there at least 90 minutes before departure.

I feel somewhat conflicted about her leaving, although I’m happy for her that she’s going back to where she wants to be right now and to the person with whom she most wants to be. This is good. Whatever “unhappiness” I feel stems more from the fact that I don’t feel I’m in the right place, really.

To some extent I feel weirdly rooted in B. – I even “chose” it from the options available, both in 1991 and again in 2012. My quarrel, if that’s the right word, is with the options that were available in the first place. I never chose Boston, have never loved it here, and moving to its North Shore was or is both a planting of the flag (for beautiful scenery, access to the ocean, nice vernacular architecture, better air) as well as a rejoinder – in the negative – to the idea that I should “like” it here. I was thinking of what it would feel like for most of the year – in the winter when sidewalks, uncleared, are treacherous and it’s bitterly cold, and in the summer when heat and humidity are oppressive – to live, say, in or near Central or Inman Square in Cambridge. And frankly, I think it would actually be awful. I went to school long enough at Harvard, and taught long enough at MIT to know the ins and outs there. Only a few days in spring and many weeks in fall would really be great. Or, say you lived in JP [Jamaica Plain], or Brookline (where we used to live), or even the brass ring, Beacon Hill / Back Bay: would that really be better (for me)? I don’t think so. The city is not laid out for breathing, and there is nothing “yang” about it (unlike Manhattan or Vancouver, say). It’s a “yin” place, smacks you into the muck, and its layout and congestion inhibit deep breaths. (Unless you can get to the Esplanade, say, but see earlier remarks abut winter and summer…)

E. also keeps harping on about how ugly and degraded it is here. Even Harvard Square, where sidewalks are littered with cigarette butts and even shopkeepers of iconic stores like Harvard Bookstore seem to show little pride in maintaining their frontage – and of course the municipality does squat to keep things clean. Heck, in Barcelona, the city hosed down the sidewalks every morning in the wee hours.

So – back to the point of departure – I’m glad E. gets to go home, but sad in a weird way that I don’t seem to be home. (Admittedly, she doesn’t feel even 70% “at home” in Vancouver, but it is a place she chose. I can’t really say that at all about Greater Boston, and can only admit to it with numerous qualifiers about B./the North Shore.)

After E. leaves and before A. gets back exactly one week from today, I want to work, finally, on the 5-year plan. Today also marks one month since W. got laid off. We’ve got ~3 or 4 weeks of health insurance left. The time flies. Maybe he won’t have a new job soon enough… that would be… “interesting.” …(from the health insurance angle). Not much happening on the job search front right now, although it is school vacation week, which I’m convinced has generally had a slowing down effect.

In other news, R.S. and [museum director] K.N. gave us a tour, helped hugely by Mr. Merry, of the Wenham Museum yesterday afternoon. Actually quite interesting – the train and also the doll collection as social history.

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