In my about page (did you know I had one of those? The link was invalid for a few months. So. Sorry about that. My bad), I specifically call out why I started this blog, long before I ever fancied myself a "foodie": I wanted to write. Often. And even, back around sixteen years old, when I found some bootleg web hosting service and registered this dear old domain, I knew what I wanted to do with the space: Share my writing. Practice my web and graphic design "skills". And that was about it.
I am most certainly proud of what has happened with neverbroken.com, especially in the past year or so. Again, if you're here, especially regularly; I really cannot thank you enough. I hope you'll enjoy some rambling, anecdotal type posts just as much as the next bacon-laden recipe. I have decided Fridays, whenever possible, will be for storytelling. So here's your first tale. It's about finding my footing in Boston, just about ten years ago, and ever chasing those allusive cool kids.
The other night, my roommate was trying to get me to go out for a drink. On a Tuesday.
While I usually needn't any convincing, I could tell I was getting sick (I was correct), and dismissed his pleas in favor of twelve or so glasses of water and OnDemand programming.
"Come on," Kurt whined, "it's the last week of summer."
I laughed. For a twenty-six year old to be saying this seemed a bit absurd. "Are you going back to school?" I asked, "Are you traveling somewhere? What, exactly, is different after Labor Day? The weather won't change until October and you know it."
"It's just not the same after August," Kurt insisted. Then finally gave his utmost indication of the ending of our favorite season. "Summer is over when all the college kids come back," he said.
Living in a city with over a hundred colleges in the general area; I think he is kind of right.
This got me thinking about the fall, and when I myself was one of those students we now love to hate so much. With each passing year, I feel my envy for these inbound students grow a bit; that, or my nostalgia just becomes more palpable. While my years in college were no walk in the park, socially, it seems the older I get, the less loneliness I recall. That's probably because some of the best friends I made at school are still just a call or email away, these days. And those who caused me to second-guess myself have been gone since the moment lectures and dorm rooms left my life.
I wasn't "cool" in high school. Despite being captain of the cheerleading squad, a team mostly composed of social misfits in the first place, I was never really comfortable in my own skin. By the time I finally started to stop caring what anyone thought, senior year was ending. And I was off to the school that had topped my list for its business program, its beautiful dorms and its Beacon Hill locale: Suffolk University.
My confidence was still quite shaky then, and my high school boyfriend, who was a year behind me in school, caused me to hole up in my single (a single! As a freshman! I know), talking on the phone and missing days gone by in North Andover, more often than I'd like to recall. It took a lot for me to break up with him, just after the beginning of second semester. He was my first love and I knew it would hurt us both tremendously, but I had to stop what I was doing-- never leaving my room, going home every weekend, not making any real friends. I knew college was supposed to be the time of my life. I was ready for it to start living up to the hype.
And so. As luck would have it, just around that time is when a room opened up in the suite that my single was off of, and in strolled a little blonde girl named Courtney. I had a few friends from various classes, and one had come down to our common room under the guise of free alcohol (Smirnoff Ice Triple Black, as I recall, that I had somehow acquired and brought back in to the dorms by lining my new mini-fridge with bottles and taping them in place).
Courtney came out of her room amidst moving things. It was a Tuesday night. "Drink?" I offered.
She sat down and proceeded to play cards and drink with us until the wee hours of the morning.
Courtney and I quickly developed a network of friends at our school and various others scattered throughout the city. There was barely a night that one of us didn't get an IM (remember AIM?) to come to Allston, or a pound on the suite door from one of our guy friends, the shouting of "scorpion bowls!!!" our only indication as to where we were headed (the Shangri-La, more oft known as the Shang. Where a college ID and a confusing hand gesture was enough to get you multiple scorpion bowls for two, for one person. Wonder why they closed?)
It's not to say that I had brigades of buddies to parade around Beacon Hill with those days, but I did slowly start to find the people I identified with. In high school, I always tried to follow suit. I remember distinctly trying to limit my vocabulary at times because it garnered quizzical looks from then-friends. After I began to become for comfortable with my surroundings and classmates in college; I stopped caring about all of this. I insisted professors call me "Allie" because "Allison" reminded me of being insecure. I raised my hand in class. I introduced myself at parties. I learned how to drive (Courtney's car, natch) in the city.
By the time Junior year rolled around and we had all moved out to apartments, mostly in the North End, it had become pretty clear to me; College was not for cliques, at least not mine. It was for finding those like-minded friends to help define yourself and your future. One night, after I had already graduated, there were ten or so of us in a Hanover Street apartment, passing around a bottle of champagne and talking about how much we all liked each other. I finally knew I was in with the cool kids.
Like I said, it's not to say that college was free from ever feeling alone, but it is certainly sweet to remember it that way. I think, when I recall my time on Beacon Hill, I will always do so with a smile. And when Labor Day rolls around and the moving trucks take up Mass Ave and we curse all the students who have come to steal back our favorite bars... I will silently toast to them, knowing I was one of them just ten years ago.
I hope you find footing, and your cool kids.