Thursday, October 12, 2006

Recapturing a Feeling

This has been a hard post to put to bed. Not because the subject matter is particularly poignant (though it is), but because I've spent at least an hour looking for the perfect photograph to express my thoughts. I think I've done it. Thanks, Kate, for the photo of Newington Street at sunset.

As any of you who have read this blog even once know, I studied in Scotland in college & fell very deeply in love with the country & with the city of Edinburgh. More particularly, I fell in love with that time (fall of 2003). I spent my 22nd birthday in Edinburgh & that time felt endless. Far away were thoughts of senior theses, graduation, apartment rent, or getting a real job. The world, and this new city, was very rich & open with possibilities . . . and we seized them.

I remember crisp afternoons wandering through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, nipping into bookstores & Goodwill shops and treating ourselves to a cup of coffee from the police booth & a wander through the Meadows afterwards. There were a few idyllic afternoons spent roaming over the high grass of Arthur's Seat & Holyrood Park. Some nights, David would "borrow" his hotel's van & take us all for a nighttime drive around the park. We'd stop at some high overlook & just gaze at the city below.

But the nights I remember most (kind of) were the nights we spent just going out & having a wonderful time. Edinburgh is a city of choice - you can while away the evening in a dingy hole-in-the-wall pub, an exotic nightclub, or a comfortable pub room lined with old books. The walks home were the best, though. We strolled home along quiet old streets, sometimes with a gaggle of friends & laughter, sometimes with just a close friend or two. We clutched our styrofoam containers of the best chips & cheese in the world close to our chests & inhaled their tantalizing scent. Even though the night was winding down, just walking home in that city could be an adventure.

I almost got that feeling back tonight. I went to Harvard Sq. to meet some current & former co-workers for drinks at Daedalus Pub. After an evening of great ale (Sam Adams Oktoberfest) & conviviality, we spilled outside to the street. I noticed a pizza place still open & bidding my friends good night, ducked inside for a slice. I was a little buzzed - just enough to feel like life wasn't pedestrian for the moment. I watched a little of BC beating Virginia Tech on the pizza joint's TV while I waited for my monstrous cheese slice to warm in the oven. I paid my $2.62 & stepped out into the night again.

My car was parked about 5 blocks away, Harvard Sq. parking being what it is. I've never minded, though, because I don't go for nearly enough walks as it is. I strolled along the side streets of Cambridge, clutching my styrofoam container of pizza to my chest. I couldn't wait & bit into the slice as I walked along. The night air was a little chilly, but not bad. I was comfortable in a long-sleeved shirt, tweed blazer & scarf. All of a sudden, there it was. That wonderful, painful nostalgia, mixed with excitement about being out in the city at night.

Exulted, I called the boyfriend, who was at the BC game, to try to convince him to meet me somewhere for a drink, a walk, something, afterwards. It was a silly idea, as both of us have to be up early in the morning - me to work, him to help a friend move. To his credit, he did offer to meet me at his apartment if I wanted to see him. But that wasn't the point. I do want to see him & I will see him tomorrow night. It's not his fault for not understanding, I didn't explain that the point was being out in the city at night - and sharing that feeling with someone you care about. I've done so before with him on long walks in Southie & we'll do so again.

Is it possible that me, a self-proclaimed country mouse who just moved back to the 'burbs, might really be a city lover at heart? Hmmmm . . . food for thought, I guess.


Sarah said...

this was a gorgeous post.

and i have always found it's easier to love a city when you don't live right in it. for me at least.

Stacey said...

Aww - thank you, Sarah. And I think that's a good point. I'm much more nostalgic about Somerville & Cambridge now that I live in the burbs.