There are a few things I really like about this place. For one, there’s a small-town quality about it, even though we’re part of a big city. And then there’s how helpful and friendly the people are.
A couple of days ago I posted a note on freecycle.org asking if anyone had any kitchen chairs they wanted to send my way. Two people responded—one woman in the neighboring town Belmont said she had a couple of sturdy wooden chairs that could use a new home, another offered two seatless chairs that required TLC. I said no to the needy ones—we have enough projects already—but today boo and I headed to Belmont to pick up the others. It only took about 15 minutes to get there and when we arrived, sure enough, there were two wooden chairs in perfect condition waiting for me on the porch. Feeling high, I drove away and pulled over to ask a couple of dogwalkers where I could buy kitty litter in the neighborhood (the other errand I had to run). They sent me off to Belmont Pet, which required driving through an adorable town full of antique shops, bakeries and mom ‘n’ pop gas stations (in addition to Starbuck’s and CVS), just minutes from our house.
Being here has forced me outside of my comfort zone. I was emailing the other day with a woman I went to high school with who wanted to hook me up with a friend of hers in Boston. She told me that back in the 90s, her parents briefly moved to Louisville, Kentucky and her mom gave her the best advice about moving to a new town: “extend yourself.” Even if you’re exhausted and would rather curl up in front of the tube, extend yourself. I have taken her advice to heart. The very day we had that email exchange, I emailed with her friend Alberta, who called later to say she and her family were in Cambridge and thinking of grabbing dinner. We met up with them and had a great time. They were so interesting—she’s a docmaker, he’s a cancer researcher and they have two adorable kids, a girl who studied Aidan with dubious eyes and a boy who incited him to great acts of rambunctiousness—and warm, I will definitely make a point of reaching out to them again.
Last week, my friend Gretchen introduced me to her friend Andrew via facebook. He lives in Roslindale, a town way on the other side of Boston, but Harlan and I dragged our butts out there last Sunday (got totally lost on the way) to meet him at their weekend farmer’s market and then wandered around, bought a baguette, some brie, gorgonzola and fig spread and had a picnic on the lawn, and fell a little bit in love with the town. The other night I learned the New Yorker book critic James Wood was reading from his book How Fiction Works at Porter Square Books, around the corner from our house. I did a truncated bedtime routine with boo and ran out the door. Not only was it the most intellectual event I’d attended in years—here I am with two lit degrees and was totally intimidated by not only the audience’s questions but the fact that I hadn’t read 90% of Wood’s references!—but I also ran into a guy I used to know in NY in the 90s who now lives in Providence with his family and invited us to come visit any time.
It pays to put yourself out there. I also went to a “toddler group”—storytime, sing-along—at a local toystore the other day and ran into a girl I know from high school!
Yesterday Rebecca, a director Harlan has worked with who lives on the shore and has two small children, emailed to ask me if I wanted to come meet her and her kids at the Wenham Museum, a children’s museum about 45 minutes from me. I agonized about the drive—I’m not much of a driver and find driving here insane. The streets make no sense, there are no signs and Bostonians are horrible drivers—and then I said what the hell. Well, actually Harlan made me. We got there without a hitch, and Aidan loved the model trains and doll display there, and had a blast destroying the toy car display in the gift shop and throwing tea cups all over the playroom downstairs. I reconnected with Rebecca and met her super-cool friend Emily who lives in Cambridge and has a son a couple months younger that Aidan. Not to mention that we drove through a beautiful part of the country I’d never seen before that’s part of a whole cluster of beach communities that are nearby and worth visiting with Harlan as the trees start turning shades of fall—and now I’ve gotten over the fear and know how easy it is to get there.
I was pretty proud of myself (even made it back to our house, through the craziness of Somerville, without taking a single wrong turn). When we moved to LA, everything was easy. We moved to the town where I grew up, into a house I’d been visiting for years, immediately welcomed into a community of friends I’d known since high school or college, got endless help from my parents who lived minutes away. Here I know no one. I’m at home with a baby. The weather’s about to turn icy. And I’m proving to myself that I can handle it.