WITH MY LAW-SCHOOL days fast escaping me, I find myself thinking more and more about how much I’m going to miss my HLS life. Of course I’ll miss friends, and I’ll miss the leisurely schedule of a student. I may even miss classes from time to time. (I’ve certainly been missing a lot of class working on my 3L paper.) But as I stop to think about what I’ll leave behind in a month, I find myself surprisingly moved by one imminent loss: Boston.
I love Boston. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere in the last three years Boston won my heart. While this message is surely of no value to my 3L peers, I hope that 2L and 1L readers might pause to consider precisely what a wonderful place surrounds their law school. Please consider the following my “love letter to Boston.”
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Boston, I’m grateful for all of your quirks. Your sights, your history, even your weather. As I end my time here, I realize that I love practically everything about you … save, of course, for pigeons and John Kerry.
Your neighborhoods. I have yet to tire of exploring them, although I spent not nearly enough time on your side of the river. But my spur-of-the-moment jaunts across the Charles have always served to reinvigorate. Pasta and pastry in the North End; a cup of coffee and a book at Beacon Hill. Vendor sausages and roasted nuts on the way down to Quincy Market. And, of course, the noisy pubs down by the water. I’ll miss it all.
Your weather. Of course, most of my classmates will scoff. Even I’ve cursed the wind and snow now and then. But it was hardly intolerable, and it was a warm reminder that it took hardy men and women to stake their claim in the New World here on the Massachusetts coast. The too-often gray skies made the sunny days all the more bright.
The history. I just couldn’t get enough of it. For such a small city and state, Massachusetts brims with such grand history. Of course I walked the Trail, went to Concord, Plymouth, and countless other sites. Icheered in the stands at Fenway. But for me my favorite moments were the occasional visits to the General Court. I’d walk up the steps to the House Chamber gallery and just watch. On busy days it was fine. But I liked the quiet days best; on those days I could sit and read (The Atlantic in Holmes’s Hub of the Universe – how cliché) and occasionally look up and see the reminders of history. And that ridiculous cod – at first it was so amusing to me, but as I came to learn Boston I came to realize that such a funny icon could hold such symbolic meaning to generations past.
And as the years pass on the city, I can’t help but feel a certain Boston melancholy. Year by year, you move a bit further from its past as a financial and political center, and a bit closer to a quiet future as another mid-sized city of past glories. “Like Philadelphia,” a friend told me, or Chicago. You will survive, though, and you will grow and shrink and change and thrive, and I can’t wait to visit you. After the Dig is done being dug.
I’ll never live in Boston again, surely. Career, family, and finances all count against it. But I’ll never forget my time here, and I’ll certainly decorate my life with quiet reminders of my fleeting days here. Thank you, Boston.
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2Ls and 1Ls: Laugh a little at my pre-graduation melodrama. But then do yourself a favor: go down to the bookstore and buy a copy of Thomas O’Connor’s The Hub: Boston Past and Present. Stick it in your backpack and take it with you this summer. Read it in July, when you’ve half-forgotten the place and exams are a distant memory. When you come back to Boston, come back to Boston. Hide out in the North End. Sit in the galleries at the General Court’s chambers. Drive out to Concord and see Emerson’s home. Picnic at Walden. Stand on the bridge at Lexington, close your eyes, and breathe history. And when you’re finished, keep traveling. Go south to Plymouth and the Cape, north to Gloucester and Manchester-by-the-Sea. I wish I’d done it sooner. I wish I could do it all once more.
Adam White is The Record’s editorial page editor. His column appears weekly.