I spent last week in downtown Boston at a conference. Because I was on the conference committee, I decided that I would stay in the hotel Tuesday through Thursday nights, rather than suck away my life by spending an hour or more each morning commuting the 10 miles between my house and the hotel. That is how bad the Boston traffic scene is on a weekday morning during peak commuting hours. Normally that 10 miles would take 15 minutes, tops, assuming I didn’t miss a turn and get going on one of the one way streets in the opposite direction from where I needed to be. Been there, done that. If you have ever spent any time driving in Boston, you know that they basically took what were originally horse drawn cart paths and made them into streets. There is no rhyme or reason to how the streets are laid out, no grid, no straight lines. It is both the charm and the curse of downtown Boston.
So I stayed over at the hotel, by myself. Did this translate into three nights of awesome sleep? No, it did not. Because the Boston Park Plaza, while a wonderfully vintage building with fabulous history and beautiful marble floors, it has lousy air conditioning in the rooms. If I stood in the corner to the right of the window, the temperature was perfect. Laying in bed, I might as well have been laying on a porch outside in late June. Humid and airless.
But I did manage to get my body out of bed each morning around 6am and take a walk around the Public Gardens and the surrounding areas.
The swans are back at the Public Gardens. They are such beautiful creatures. Just don’t feed them. A swan on land, stretched up to its full height of close to 6 feet, with its wings spread, hissing at you for more bread is one of the more startling experiences you can have in life.
I also had the chance to walk over to Copley Square, and see the memorial to the Boston Marathon.
I had only a peripheral connection to the bombings, knowing people who were running or working the marathon, and yet standing there, looking at the shoes, shirts, signs, and other memorabilia and tokens of sympathy and support was ridiculously moving and made me cry. The city has moved on in the sense that life keeps going, people have gone back to work, there are almost no signs of the explosions to be found. But there are Boston Strong signs everywhere, and you cannot help but be grateful for the people who were there that day to help.
The conference itself was good. It was a financial aid conference. What can I say about it other than that. But I will leave you with a cautionary tale about attempting to be like my mother. My mother will talk to anyone. She is always willing to engage in a conversation about a hernia operation with the clerk at the grocery store, or ask the woman setting up for some sort of walkathon what it is for and how long is it going to be. I am also capable of holding a conversation with a spoon, or the bunny rabbit that is hanging out in our front yard, but I tend not to seek out these conversations. But for some reason as I was walking past the shoe shine guy in the lobby of the hotel, it occurred to me that there isn’t as much business for shoe shine guys anymore, and as I glanced down at my bare toes sticking out of my open toed shoes, it occurred to me that it would be a really smart business move to offer both shoe shine and pedicure services. That would expand the business exponentially. And rather than keep this genius idea to myself, I thought I would offer this Donald Trump quality concept to the nice shoe shine man, sort of as a joke.
You know how sometimes someone doesn’t get that you are making a joke, and begins to quite earnestly try to understand what it is you are saying, and tries respond just as earnestly? Have you ever had to describe the concept of a pedicure to a man who was not born in this country, who is easily over the age of 60 and has never even considered what a pedicure is much less how to give one? EPIC JOKE FAIL. The footage of this exchange could be accompanied by a loud farting sound.
This is what I get for trying to be more like my mom, and attempting to engage in a lighthearted way with someone in passing. I am going to stick with my more New Englandy impulses which always tell me to make sideways eye contact as I pass someone, and give them the briefest of smiles, perhaps a nod, and just keep walking.