Thursday, October 11, 2007

Boston to Marion, Massachusetts

58.9 statute miles

As of today, we are safely ensconced in the familiarity of Karl’s mom’s home, finally completely the last stage of our multi-day journey. We arrived in Boston after midnight last night, gleefully meeting my brother and feeding him leftover free chicken wings from our voucher, and gingerly picking up our bags stinking of conch guts. We sat on the porch with him and his roommates until three o’clock in the morning, talking about the Bahamas and his trip to Thailand, discussing Bahamian linguistic quirks and showing off our conch shells, telling story after story. It was a blast. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed him, how much I immediately synch up with my family when I see them again. It’s like we’re telepathically connected. When I’m around them I don’t have to say half of what I’m thinking--they just know. They make connections that I haven’t yet made, and understand the connections that I try to make.

This morning, after nearly freezing to death in his front room (the cold is going to be hard), I went crazy and reorganized his kitchen, pulling a total Mom. I didn’t realize how gleeful I was going to be at having access to a full kitchen and stocked pantry, so I made delicious French toast out of the stale loaves Peter’s roommate brings home from the gourmet grocer where he works, and then began to rearrange the pantry and the spice rack. We went all out, eventually, Peter composting things right and left and Karl restructuring their electronic appliances. Who knew cleaning could be so fun?

We went out for delicious Indian food at the place around the corner and it felt surreal to be so thoroughly in the heart of urbania, coed hipsters in striped stockings on every corner, storefront coffee and ice cream shops lining the sidewalks, exotic smells wafting from immigrant bistros. City traffic was a heart-stopping surprise, too--we drove down to South Station rather than take the T with our giant backpacks stuffed with conch shell--and it took all of two hours. It nauseated me to sit behind an elephantine Suburban, with a solo driver and bedecked with skiing stickers, for a full hour, then to drive by gas stations charging all of $2.69 a gallon. When people on Crooked are paying $5! How dare people sit in traffic in their SUVs and get paid for it by the government? Ridiculous. I’ll try not to let politics influence my musings on America too much, but it’ll be hard.

I could feel myself being influenced by it already, especially on the commuter rail to Marion, which, thanks to the traffic, we managed to hit right at rush hour. How is that commuting brings out the absolute worst in people, including myself? I was horrified by man’s inhumanity to man--here we are with three giant bags apiece, for all anyone knows abandoned Swedish exchange students or tourists, and no one would even move to share their three-person bench with another solo traveler to make room for us. Instead we had to perch in the passageway between cars, freezing as the wicked wind whipped by, and jostled by the executives pushing their way toward every point of egress, all of which we blocked. Eventually I stopped even moving out of their way, in repayment to their graciousness towards us, wishing curses on every soul that passed. I repeat: commuting is the worst thing for the soul of man, ever.

We were more than relieved to arrive safely at the station in Middleboro and to be welcomed by Karl’s brother and nephews, whom we have missed so much. They were thrilled to see us and gave us all the news they could in the first twenty minutes. They drove us by the gigantic new Wareham plaza, the competitive answer to the Walmart monolith across town. Nothing like paving over acres of wetlands to bring about economic rejuvenation. Nothing like bringing in five new chain restaurants and dozens of paved parking lots to improve the health of a community. Sheesh.

We had pizza with the boys for dinner while they showed off their toys and Yu-Gi-Oh cards and we showed off the shells we had brought them. Despite all the effort, the mass conch exodus was worth it--the boys were thrilled to be able to heft a conch shell’s weight and explore its smooth pink interior. “Did you eat it” they asked, disgusted.

“Not this one,” we said. We didn’t get back to the house until after Karl’s mom had gone to bed, and were shocked at all the changes no one had thought to mention. Karl’s brother had redone his kitchen and built new shelves in the kid’s bedroom, Karl’s mom installed new carpet and a new refrigerator. I suppose these things aren’t important enough to be mentioned in our rare phone calls, but it’s strange to be here and find everything the same, but different. Things haven’t stood still while we’ve been gone. Everyone has changed, evolved. We have too, I hope.

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