Current tunes: Boston, Augustana (it’s the cliche of all cliches…and I love it.)
Location: Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
“So where y’all from?” she asked with her Texan accent shining through.
“California,” I replied.
“Figures. You just look like California.”
“Umm, thank you?”
So if you haven’t heard, I moved again. The conversation above happened a few days ago during my hospital orientation for my new travel nurse assignment. Considering I was wearing scrubs and no make-up, I guess this fellow traveler made this assumption because…I dunno, because I’m the new brown girl in New England? For the record, I was not offended at all. In fact, I kind of beamed when she said it. I am completely biased, obvi since I was born and raised in that glorious, sunshiney state, but I absolutely adore California so if I “look” California, well then thank you very much. I am pretty set on returning and making it my home base when I decide to stop “searching” as my dad says. But one of my new year’s resolutions was to take the leap and leave the Golden State for a bit. So here I am, over 3,000 miles away from home, and this time I’m riding solo as my travel pair and dear friend, Kaitlin, headed off to North Carolina. Eeeeeeek. (Read how this travel life all began here :] )
I arrived in Boston about a week ago with two 50 pound suitcases, a carryon, and a bundle of nerves/excitement. Previously, my general rule for moving was I could take anything that I could fit in my car. Well now that Chandler, my little white Jeep, is snoozing in my mother’s garage for the time being, I had to rethink what was most important to me. Somehow, seventeen pairs of shoes made the cut. I know, I’m kind of insane. I booked myself an Airbnb for the first two nights since I hadn’t officially signed a lease on a place…again I’m a little insane. I know it’s not smartest thing to move your whole life somewhere without an official place to live. Minor detail, right? But I figured it was less wise to sign on a place that I hadn’t physically seen with my own two eyes. But God was so, so good. I somehow, after emailing about 30 people on Craigslist and sorting through all the dirty rotten scammers, scored the master bedroom/private bath a few blocks from my new work place, Boston Medical Center, in the South End neighborhood.
I’d be lying if I said my first few days here have gone smoothly. But that’s all part of moving and learning the heartbeat of each new city. My first night I was starving and decided to walk to a little sushi place about 3/4 mile from my Airbnb. As I started walking, I began to get that sketch feeling. Ladies, you can probably relate. You know that feeling when you kind of wish you had brought your keychain pepper spray that you knew you would never carry because it was too heavy? (Side note: I have received three keychain pepper sprays in the last two years as gifts from people. I’m not sure if it’s because they think I’m crazy for trying these independent travels or if I’m starting to look shrimpy and need to hit the weights a little more often). I start Googling the safety of the neighborhood that I had just entered while en route to my dinner. According to my Google search, at this point I am not Feeling Lucky. Fortunately, I make it in one piece and as I’m finishing my spicy tuna roll, I realize in horror…I left my wallet in my other bag. Oh-em-gee. Rookie traveler mistake from all the airport ID checks and whatnot. I immediately tell the waitress and give her my purse as a token of my word that I will return to pay. It is now 9pm and I definitely don’t feel safe walking back. Thank you Jesus for Uber. I Uber to my Airbnb, then back to the sushi joint, pay, and Uber back again. Yeesh.
After racking up some serious spendage on Uber/Lyft rides, I finally decided to take the famous “T” which is the nickname for the public transport system in Boston. I’d heard it was relatively easy to use, but I admit I can be directionally challenged at times so I had been putting it off. But my bad luck continued on that first train ride. I made it one stop before a power outage forced us all to be herded off the T like cattle. So I decide to walk…but then I somehow get myself in another unsafe walking bind. I probably should have taken the homeless shelters and methadone clinics that I was passing as a sign to turn around. But I was determined to get to Target for some necessities considering I only had clothing to my name. It still the early afternoon so I shoved my earphones in, avoided any and all eye contact, and pushed through. So what if they call that street Methadone Mile? I found out that piece of information later, ha. Fortunately my neighborhood is pretty safe and I really like my apartment. It is also a summer sublet so unfortunately they are giving me the boot August 31 in which the hunt for some new digs will start again. If all else fails I could go live with my new friends that I met on my Target walk.
BUT I will say things are starting to look up. Boston in the summer is absolutely gorgeous! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of all the brick. I actually live in a brownstone which are townhouse type buildings made of the brownstone brick material and often have several apartments in one residence. Between the red bricks, the foliage, the numerous parks, and the enormous stone cathedrals, I really feel as if I entered a new world and I am embracing the change of scenery and cannot wait to keep exploring. I’ve been mostly learning the streets by going on runs and have found the Charles River and Boston Common to be some of my favorite places to clock in some mileage.
I met a few other gypsy nurses in orientation and it was nice to finally have some girl time after kicking it solo for the first few days of my move (I have two roomies but our schedules are so different we don’t cross paths much). Maddie, a Connecticut native, and Angela, the Pittsburgian, and I had our first outing together at a free Smash Mouth concert in one of the most famous parks in all of Boston, Boston Common. Talk about a throwback, After that we grabbed some mouthwatering pizza at a place called Figs in Beacon Hill and I am still dreaming about that fig and prosciutto pie.
I also was lucky enough to hop on a trip to Cape Cod with Maddie. My east coast knowledge is slim to none and I embarrassingly explained to Maddie that the only thing I had heard about Cape Cod was from a minor reference to it in the film Legally Blonde. I learned that Cape Cod is the peninsula and surrounding islands, imagine the little hook portion of Massachusetts, and is a popular summer destination for New Englanders. Each region is composed of sea ports and villages filled with charming beach shops, ice cream parlors, and local restaurants. And you’re never too far from a bowl of “clam chowdah” or a “lobstah roll.” Did I mention I am loving these Boston accents? Her grandmother lives in Falmouth, one of the south western regions of the cape, and she graciously let us stay in her beach home for the weekend. And even though my I let my skin get a little too crispy, I really enjoyed taking a dip in that Atlantic water. I honestly don’t think I can ever live in a place where I am landlocked. The ocean is just too good for my soul.
Today was my first day on my unit, the Surgical ICU, and while you would think I would be used to this by now, I was still pretty nervous and tossed and turned all night. I always feel like the first few weeks is a test, like they are all watching me and I have to prove myself to them. Prove that I will actually be a helpful addition to a short staffed unit. And that I do not fit the stereotype that travelers are noncommittal bimbos with little nursing knowledge and are in it only for the money. Okay so not everyone thinks that, but depending on the hospital, travel nurses are not always well received by the permanent staff. Luckily, I had a pretty decent day but I still have a lot to learn…
Welp, I work again tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Cheers and keep on wishin’!