Saturday, January 19, 2013

To Explore Brave New Worlds: A Boston Weekend

Vacationing is most effective when it doesn't just offer an escape from the debilitating regularity of a routine, but goes beyond to open a window to a completely new reality. I do not mean an alternate reality, like a visit to the land of What If; I mean a world that has gone on inexorably, crossing unimaginable horizons and thresholds, one that redefines our very reality. My trip to Boston did that for me: it showed me a brave new world, so that even the railroad tracks in the middle of the street looked incredibly cool instead of impractical.

I spent a couple of days getting to know all about Paul Revere and Beacon Hill. But then, across one of the bridges, lay the cobblestones to another time, more Star Trek than Revolution. I walked past places that were as exotic and improbable as any that the Starship Enterprise could boast knowing; I walked past 100 Technology Square, with MIT buildings owning all horizons all around; Microsoft proclaimed its newest generations on a live billboard in Kendall Square; next to a crepe place, a large window advertised the map of the human genome; across the street were the MIT center for cancer research and center for brain research. Really, I felt like I was perched on the edge of human civilisation. My worries about the cats' feeding times, my child's dorm bill, and the price of gas seemed embarrassingly trivial, even outdated.

There are some cities that just call to me to own them, invite me to explore their labyrinthine alleys, discover new worlds in their roofs and skylines, and through it all, a river runs, lending a touch of the archetypal, cities that, for lack of a better descriptor, simply sing to me. I can barely resist this song, and the fusion that Boston is, with its stately architectures that dream of London and Florence, with the red vein of Freedom Trail that runs through it, with the little ducks all in a row, it hums with a heady aria. People who know me often mistake me for a history buff, but I can barely aspire to be one. My personal touchstones for European history are based on the most unreliable of all historical sources, Shakespeare, Malory, Gildas! So it would be safer to say that I am passionate about and attracted to the drama of human experience that history promises, rather than to a commitment to keeping a chronological string of events untangled in my head. So it was with Boston, which spoke hauntingly of Paule Revere's lanterns, and in the same breath, claimed Leonard Nimoy as its own.

In Cambridge, we passed by this really beautiful local college. There was snow on the ground and the sky looked like a desert with tree skeletons scratching at its cold, grey expanse. But students skipped and strode purposefully and all but danced the extremely serious nature of their excitement at returning to their Alma Mater after a winter fortnight away. This local institution proclaimed its universal appeal with an insignia that summed up its mission in a word, Veritas. Here, as I witnessed the active pursuit of ancient truths, I inhaled and knew the thin, cold air that stratifies the very pinnacle of the highest achievements of our species, from the mundane concerns of lay visitors, awarded a glimpse of the busyness of the business of being human.

I return humbled and enriched to my blue-gold skies and lands of eternal summer, back to my trivial routine. My hope is that this entry shall remind me of this sweet air that I had once breathed, sauntering around in one of the Coops, buying a fridge magnet in exchange of a promise to these cobblestones of many future tramplings.



  1. After your beautiful and evoking post: I want to go to Boston!
    Hugs, Ofelia

  2. I am happy that i will be going soon to Boston. Unfortunately I dont the gift of your sensibility and the strength of language to express what I feel. Hope to see Boston with you.