Current tunes: I’m Not Famous, AJR
You guys…I have been trying to get a post up for months. I must have half a dozen attempted/partially written word docs on my laptop about my life in Boston. Everything from lobster eating, experiencing the magic that is the New England fall, and my many state hopping adventures. Just last month I was able to hit Chicago, NYC, and a few cities in Vermont within four weeks. Talk about #blessed. It’s been a whirlwind but a blast. But here I am, still alive, and officially have been away from my home of California for a record breaking five months. It’s strange but as much as the West Coast sun has embedded itself into my heart, I am not really homesick. A little peoplesick, yes. So while I considered writing a piece about Thanksgiving and missing my family and feeling all the feels…I decided against it. Thankfully I’m currently in Pennsylvania, being graciously hosted by my auntie and cousins since that Cali Thanksgiving ticket was wicked expensive.
A question, or rather an observation, I get from most people that learn about my job is how difficult it must be to meet people and build relationships. “Don’t you get lonely? Dating must be hard, huh? How do you make friends? etc.” Talking to people has never been much of a struggle (and my family would lovingly add that keeping my mouth shut is the bigger challenge). Sure, I admit, I could probably carry a conversation with a brick wall and I think I talk to myself as much as I do other humans. But I think the part of traveling I hate more than saying goodbye is the that lurking loneliness that will hit me out of nowhere. Well wait, let me clarify- some days are awesome and I love days of individual exploration and getting to independently recharge so I do not mean I hate being alone. I just hate feeling alone.
Previously I had been traveling with a good friend of mine from back home, but as most of you know we had our hearts set on different cities for this assignment so I red cupped it and went solo. And while I am pretty independent, being a part of something larger than myself and having something, or someone, to feed into and be fed into is a large part of what I value in this life. So here’s how I made community in Boston.
Outside of work I found it to be a little more challenging to build a social circle in Boston. Not that the people are mean, they just aren’t as warm as back home (my theory is that there is a weather/climate correlation to friendliness, but that’s just me). And people definitely have there own cliques here that can be hard to break into.
But I utilize things like Meetup, an online website that allows people with common interests to post events and literally meet up to do and enjoy different hobbies together whether it be baking, exercise, play Dungeons and Dragons, you name it. I personally have joined a running club in every city I have been and made a small handful of good friends from my run club here in Boston. I will say that I have gotten quite skilled at picking up on women for friendship as weird as that sounds. But raise your hands girls if it means more to you to be complimented by a fellow female than someone that could potentially have an ulterior motive in mind. A boy says “nice pants” and we think, “eyes up here, dude” but if it’s coming from a girl? I get all starry eyed like, “what did I do to deserve this love? and OMG you are killing it in those boots too!” I have been fortunate to meet a few girls through yoga and gym classes and even a dating app to find girlfriends instead of a love interest (it’s called Bumble BFF y’all, check it if you’re new to a city and need a squad). But speaking of dating apps…
…I debated whether or not to post something on this publicly out of fear of sounding whiny (and/or pathetic) but what the heck, online dating is part of our Millennial culture now so let the word vomit begin. Originally I thought, alright, traveling is really going to widen my net, especially considering many people my age back in my hometown are married with a bun in the oven or already have a stroller in their trunk. You know what I usually had in my backseat when I lived in Fresno? Several pairs of hopefully matched shoes, protein bar wrappers, receipts of buying and returning items of shopper’s remorse from TJ Maxx, a bag of old clothes that should have been taken to GoodWill eight months ago, and four half drunk plastic water bottles that I eventually will finish but will likely get cancer from after being heated and cooled repeatedly in the Fresno heat. So yea, my pond has grown, and through “putting myself out there” have discovered that in general there are four categories of Bostonian Boys: the Scholars, the Scrubbies, the Suits, and the Locals.
(Disclaimer: This tangent is purely a generalization based off experience, dating app profiles, and chatting over vino with my gal pals. It’s humor is meant to take the edge off the wins and woes of our dating lives in this city.)
So the Scholars include graduate students, likely from Harvard and MIT, with hipster glasses and brains that are larger than life. They mostly in live in Cambridge/Somerville and unintentionally make me feel like I was born with a few less neurons. The Scrubbies are the overworked, sleepy doctors in residency that have come to Boston to train in some of the best medical facilities in the country. They sport five o’clock shadows, wear bed head well, and live in clusters in the neighborhoods surrounding the hospitals so they can easily crawl back to their homes after working 16-24 hour shifts on the regular. The Suits are the slick young professionals that work in the financial district as businessman, software engineers, or have some role in a new start-up. They can often be found riding the T with a blazer or a Patagonia vest over their gingham button-up shirt, shiny kicks, and headphones in as they scroll through the WSJ on their iPhone7 Plus. And lastly, the Boston born and bred, the Locals. You are likely to meet them at a sports bahhh (they have the accent to match), would kill to meet Tom Brady, have some sort of Irish descent, and are often in rough and tough jobs like EMTs and firemen. But the one thing all these New England boys have in common? They own boat shoes and pink/salmon shorts. Don’t believe me? Go out on Sunday Funday during brunch hours in the summer.
Let me tell you how I feel about dating in this day and age that really has nothing to do with the dudes. It’s pretty freakin’ frustrating. Brutal. Just plain sucks. I feel like modern technology has molded us to be these hyperconnected individuals with little real interaction or accountability to set aside actual time to get to know each other. We utilize social media to stalk people and in turn make preconceived notions about who they are before that first date. And these dang dating apps…yea I’ve tried/occasionally use them. As my good friend Aziz Ansari says, “It’s like having a singles bar in your pocket” (quick tip: I found Ansari’s book Modern Romance about what it means to date today to be much more entertaining via audiobook…that voice…entertaining stuff.) Honestly, I have met some really nice, put together, intelligent dudes. Even dated for longer than I anticipated and I do think real relationships can evolve from them. But over time it starts to feel like the same interview over and over. In addition, imagine being in my position and how it feels to reveal your temporary existence in a city. On one hand, I think some find it attractive because it means low commitment for them from the get-go. On the other hand, I have been told, “Sorry sister, I’m looking for something long term, not someone that is going to choose the sights and sounds of NYC or the amazing eats of Portland over me.” And my job sure makes it easier for me to disconnect and run if things were to get scary, weird, hard, etc. But unfortunately, guess what? Last I checked, real relationships eventually get scary, weird, hard, at some point. And so I digress. Forever conflicted with the passion for travel and the desire to be needed, to be wanted, and to love. Sigh.
Maybe I should have titled this How I Succeed at Not Being a Total and Complete Loner. But I mean I make a living off exploring the country and getting to love on sick people in need. And in my opinion, at this stage in my life, there are few things that I find more satisfying. So despite the exhaustion and emotions that come with establishing relationships and leaving them when an assignment is over, it is totally worth it. For now at least. My grandma seems to think otherwise since today at Thanksgiving she scolded me in fierce Arabic on my singleness and for wearing jewelry on my fingers because boys might be confused and think I’m not available…she further criticized that if I am going to wear jewelry at all why is it not real gold like her wedding band? She loves me in her own little way, I swear.
Happy Thanksgiving, my people. Four more weeks in Boston and no, I haven’t signed my next contract yet but I’ll keep all Y’ALL posted ;]
Cheers and keep on wishin’!