(the mural at Bay State Foods, aka “The Russians.” A strange title, given the Peruvian ownership.)
My time in Boston has come to a close. I have vacated my humble Brookline apartment for the potential glamor of Washington DC. Moving always brings out a clutter of emotions, and while I have done the September shuffle my fair share of times in the Hub, leaving entirely is especially tough.
I’ve slept in the same dorm that birthed Napster on Hemenway Street. I shared a very, very small bedroom with Colin and Oscar (thankfully, one after the other) in a lovely brick-walled nook at St. Stephen and Mass Ave. I sweated it out in a very cramped apartment with the floodlights of Fenway creeping in the window on Peterborough, saved by close proximity of El Pelón. And for two years, when not on tour or otherwise traveling, I’ve called the peculiar haven of college students amidst the Brookline families, known to most as “The Empire,” my home.
We’ve seen some crazy things in the past five years. I could rattle off a list, but I’m sure I’d miss something important (the filming of The Departed, the gigantic snowstorm in January 2005, Kerry’s Copley Square presidential rally, and all of the Marathons are worth mentioning). While I’m not a large sports enthusiast compared to many Bostonians, as a lifelong Mass resident the Red Sox run deep in my blood, and the 2003, 2004, and 2007 Red Sox weaved a beautiful common thread in my Boston experience.
If the Sox are my thread, then Manny Ramirez serves as my framing. His arrival in the spring of 2001 was about when I started thinking seriously about where I was going to college, and Boston schools stayed at the top of the list through the next two years. I got my license shortly thereafter, and while I spent most of my time in Gardner or Fitchburg, I always looked forward to the occasional trips to Boston with a van full of kids. Once at Northeastern I was naturally at the heart of it, surrounded by Red Sox fandom. The Sox in ’03 was how I met most of my friends freshman year, as we piled into one suite to watch the whole series build up, screaming at the TV when Grady left Pedro in the game. 2004 had us pouring out into the streets, celebrating well into the morning (I remember watching Fox25 at 5AM and seeing my street from the helicopter camera). By 2007 I had left the college parts of town, but still walked from Coolidge to Kenmore and back, high-fiving passersby, when we swept the Rockies. Between these high-water marks were the low points: the departure of Theo Epstein (only to have him return shortly thereafter), the 5-game Boston Massacre at the hands of the Yankees in 2006, and of course, the departures of our once-lauded heroes: Nomah, Pedro, D-Lowe, Nixon, and now Manny.
I do not want to sound obsessed, and indeed many, many great moments happened without the Sox as a centerpiece (most of my friends actually don’t care that much about baseball), but living in Boston means they’re never too far away: on the radio or TV in the other room, on the baseball cap of your friend, or amidst curse words under your breath when you attempt to board a train passing Kenmore around 6:30 on a weeknight.
And now, a little more than a week after Manny’s departure, I’ve left my city. I do not doubt I will return many times, and would never rule out living here again, but for the next few years the majority of my time will be in law textbooks at George Washington University. I know that I’ll never fully leave, but for now I’ve traded Bostonist for DCist (I’m keeping Universal Hub, though). There will be good times in DC; I am certain. But I will most certainly Boston, and all those who snark their days through in it. I’ll miss Newbury Comics, The Coolidge Corner Theatre, JP Licks, Deep Ellum, Little Stevie’s, The Russians, Nuggets, and, yes, Fenway Park.
But don’t worry, Red Sox, I’ll only watch the Washington Nationals occasionally, merely for amusement. You’re still in a whole other league.