Thursday, October 8, 2015

Living in the City vs Residing in the City

It is one of those crisp October mornings that begs you to be grateful for living in New England.  The air smells good...the sky is beautifully blue and people walk with pep in their step.

This is our first Autumn as citizens of Boston, so I am excited to see what unfolds as the days grow shorter and cooler.  Already, I've noticed that Reilly's and my walks are longer...more leisurely.  We are veering off our familiar routes adding this side street or that...lingering longer in the Public Garden.  It may not be the most cardio-driven exercise, but I feel the benefits all the same.

Now those of you familiar with Reilly the Wonder Dog know that she is an Ambassador Extraordinaire.  No exaggeration, daily we are stopped by locals and tourists who need a little Groton Terrier love.  The students over at Suffolk, at first reticent about asking, now look forward to seeing her and some even seem to to be waiting on the corner of Temple and Derne for their dose of Reilly enthusiasm.  It is because of Reilly, I think I have hit the fast track of Boston living...I'm out several times a day with her...I challenge myself to meet new people, face my trepidations and discover something new as often as possible.  We have a fine mix of routine and revelation.

Over these past months residing as renters and now homeowners, I have observed something interesting.  Those who reside in the city, do not always "live" in the city. I have met neighbors who have a place to put their heads a night, but come daylight they are off to work and on the weekends they leave the city...they never hang around to enjoy our Hub.  I get needing a break...I learned that lesson in Paris...just about every six weeks or so, Bill, Reilly and I would hop on the TVG and head outta, Paris...but in Boston, the urgency to do so hasn't been quite the same.  Perhaps it is because we are still in the new nest phase...but too, I think Boston has so much to offer me that the city walls have yet to close in on us...also, we are from around here....we've been there, done the desire to reach beyond the city limits has tamed for us...but back to those folks who flee...and it is not just here and there...we are so surprised at how many people leave Boston for weekends and holidays...good for us, I guess...more parking spaces.  I chuckle when city folk ask us,"so what are you doing this week/weekend?", and they are surprised when I share an event, location or quest that is readily available to anyone willing to peruse a local neighborhood newspaper, The Improper Bostonian calendars or any number of social media outlets...speaking of The Improper Bostonian, it is delivered at least monthly... and when I rented I loved getting it...four copies would be delivered and we were the only ones to pick up a copy...insert frowny face...after a few months of copies piling up in the foyer, I would recycle them on trash days...such a shame to ignore free knowledge...

I have noticed that our transitional populations...students and medical residents mostly...seem immune to Boston...I live across the street from Suffolk off campus housing...and seen that many, too many, students dash out their front doors, ear buds firmly implanted, and never looking up or around...never saying hello to neighbors.  It strikes me as odd that given the great blessing and privilege to be a college student in a world class city, in a stunningly beautiful and historic neighborhood, that they're not so keen to be immersed in their neighborhood. Perhaps the sense of transiency stifles their connection to the 'hood.   Alas, I've witnessed uncomely starts on about 3pm...the students return to their residences with cases and bags and boxes of alcohol...stocking up for a weekend of drinking...the delivery services frequent the Hill regularly from Thursday through Sunday too...people at the freest times of their lives squirreled away in their apartments...tsk, tsk...they reside...they occupy a place...they don't take ownership of their space and time...and this is typical across the city...I wonder if helicopter parents dampened the ability or spirit in their kids to be out in the world...they certainly can be oblivious to common courtesy...apparently a value not thoroughly shared with many of today's GenZ.

The example that comes to mind to is trash admittedly, I am a bit of a fussbudget when it comes to refuse.  I have yet to meet I rat I like and I will continue my crusade to make our neighborhood as rodent repellent as back to trash...I have noted that my young student neighbors do not get the concept that tidy trash closes down the all they can eat rat buffet.  Boston has very specific and necessary regulations about trash disposal.  And from the moment I set foot in this city, I have made it my goal to have curbside trash that makes my neighbors envious and a pleasure for our hard working sanitation engineers to remove.  The college kids on the other hand are gross.  They dispose of their garbage with no care...I will spare you the disgusting details...but I've learned a lot about these youngin's and their parents' failings to teach them about sanitary living...pardon me while I gag and shiver a little...What gets my goat though is not matter how, when or why you share perspectives on proper trash gets the  you're worried about trash?  Someone in the city will fix it...and if I get a ticket for not following the biggie...the building management will pay it...isn't that what I pay rent for?...grrrrr....Although there are times when the city heroes...rule the day.  Boston City Hall brilliantly developed an app called 311...using which allows citizens to report problems from potholes to improper trash disposal...and the city sends out inspectors to address the problem...I have noticed a remarkable difference in our rodent problem and it is because Inspectional Services gets right on it and corrects be warned if your trash is out on the wrong day or time...these urban warriors have no problem tearing into your bag and finding the paper with your name, or other identifier on it and make a special, educational visit to your door.

I love it too when Karma visits...there is a young lady across the street who gave my neighbor Ted a bit of lip when he placed her ill timed trash  back in the lobby of her building.  He politely explained the scheduling and reasons for the rules and she told him to mind his own business.  He retorted that because he lives on the street, it is his business...she left the trash in the lobby...he continued on his walk, stopping to share his experience with a group of us, who were meeting to discuss the plan for fall plantings on Hancock.  Later in day, the same said young lady plopped her trash out on the curb...too early...just as the city inspector was walking up the sidewalk...he whipped out his ticket book and fined her on the ifs, ands or second chances...Karma baby.

I gripe about trash day because with a wonder dog, one cannot be too careful.  Fridays and Mondays are trash days...pick up for us is always between 7 and 7:30 am...awesome!  But in many cases, the garbage has been sitting curbside since 5pm the night before...stewing and attracting when the trash truck comes by..if there is a hole in the bag or if the homeless have rooted through it...and stuff is strewn about...the sanitation workers may or may not clean that up, thus leaving a mess for residents to address...and you know that college student isn't going to clean it when I have to walk the dog early on trash becomes a tug of war so Reilly won't scarf down the oogy pizza crust or worse...remember I said I wouldn't tell you?, well, I still won't....shiver, shiver..

Shifting gears, thankfully, right?  I guess city living and residing in the city are states of being...we consider ourselves citizens of Boston...invested in the city...engaged with our neighbors, however they may come...we choose to embrace the culture, the history and the quirks of Boston.  I find that every day I become a bit more urban and hopefully urbane.  We moved to Boston to become Bostonians.  Here's to the journey!