Sunday, April 17, 2005

culture shock

I'm so used to getting in my car and zipping up to Somerville/Cambridge that I forget how far it actually is, sometimes.

Today I walked from my house, through the Arboretum, to the Forest Hills T-stop. It's about a 30 minute walk, if you walk quickly, and it's the loveliest, most scenic route you could ask for. Today was typically beautiful: birds were singing, wildflowers were in bloom, and fresh green buds were out on nearly all of the trees. The path to the T-station goes though several incarnations, from dirt to asphalt to gravel; near the end, it circumvents a marshy pond complete with little duck families bobbing around on its surface.

The gravel path ends right across the street from the T station. From there, it took two trains to get me to Davis Square; 45 minutes later, I emerged into a cityscape where people were a little younger, a little hipper, and a whole lot more numerous than in Roslindale. Blinking in the sunlight, I felt like a country relative in for a visit to the "Big City", even though I lived in Somerville for nearly two years, two years ago.

The day was fun, and I'm glad I went, but it was kind of a relief to go home again. It felt like a long voyage from an oddly foreign land: clamber back down to the weird underground world of the T, switch trains, then arrive back to resurface safely at the gates of my beloved Arboretum once more.

There's something magical about passing through those tall iron gates; I feel as though the Arboretum stands as a green and gentle buffer zone between me and the hustle and bustle of the crowded northern squares. The ducks were still out, dipping along the bottom of the pond for an evening snack. A few people were still in the park, playing with dogs or rounding up tired kids. And I breathed a little easier in the peace of it all.

I am a little wary of how provincial I'm becoming; my perception of how crowded Cambridge-ville is, along with my accompanying nervous reaction to its hip and busy pace, is very different from how I perceived it a couple of years ago. And Roslindale can feel a little isolated at times, especially when it comes to hearing good live music or seeing randomly familiar faces on the street.

Still, between the stress of urban living, and the isolation of my friendly island amid the green hills of the Arboretum and the other big South-of-Boston parklands, I'll take my idyllic isolation any day.


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