Monday, August 20, 2007

Dirty Water

I’ll never forget the moment I became a New Englander. It was October 28, 2004. I know it was around lunchtime because I was buying a salad when I heard The Standells for the first time:

I'm gonna tell you a story
I'm gonna tell you about my town
I'm gonna tell you a big bad story, baby
Aww, it's all about my town

It was, of course, the day after the Sox had won the World Series. I’m not a baseball fan (actually, I’m not a fan of any sport) but my husband and I couldn’t help but watch the game on the tiny TV in our guest room and cheer on the local team. I may have shed a tear when the game ended and the neighbors on our sleepy Newton street went outside to celebrate, but at the time I thought it was the pregnancy hormones taking over.

We went outside too, and I took a blurry picture of the blood-red lunar eclipse.

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
(Aw, that's what's happenin' baby)
That's where you'll find me
Along with lovers, fuggers, and thieves
(Aw, but they're cool people)

My newfound affection had very little to do with curses being broken. By then we had been living here a little over two years, but we had spent a lot of that time discussing where in the world we would end up living - for real. Vienna? Miami? London? Rio? What city would allow us to live the life we wanted?

Turns out we were already there.

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home
(Oh, you're the Number One place)
Frustrated women
(I mean they're frustrated)

At first, I thought this town was boring and was frustrated because it wasn’t welcoming. There's no street grid, so it takes years to learn your way around. Driving a Honda Civic in 10 inches of snow is not fun. I was a frustrated woman, indeed.

Until I got AWD and navigation, that is.

Have to be in by twelve o'clock
(Oh, that's a shame)
But I'm wishin' and a-hopin, oh
That just once those doors weren't locked
(I like to save time for my baby to walk around)
Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)

We had many hungry nights when we first moved here. I was used to eating dinner after 9 pm, and I never, ever went to a restaurant before 10 pm. Have you been in Boston after 10:30? Ghost town!

Eventually, we adjusted our dining schedule. Now I eat at 6 pm (sometimes 7!) like a real New Englander.

Because I love that dirty water
Oh, oh, Boston
You're my home (oh, yeah)

But you know, this town has a way of growing on you. We love going for walks on the Charles River Esplanade (always keeping an eye out for thieves). I love cannolli, and therefore the North End. I’ve been on a duck tour, and it was corny and all sorts of awesome.

Well, I love that dirty water
(I love it, baby)

Canoeing to the playground in Auburndale park. The Barking Crab. Fenway Park. Nantucket. Tanglewood. MassMoCa.

I love that dirty water
(I love Baw-stun)

I don’t have a Boston accent, but my son says “cah” and “beah” instead of “car” and “bear.”


I love that dirty water
(Have you heard about the Strangler)

I love the history and the scenery that has inspired countless artists: Walden Pond, Emily Dickinson, The House of the Seven Gables, Norman Rockwell.

I love that dirty water
(I'm the man, I'm the man)

I will never love the snow, but it makes me appreciate our gorgeous summers even more.

I love that dirty water
I love that dirty water
(Come on, come on)

I even love our simple black and beige colonial with its red door. It's just a rectangular box with a gable roof, the kind of house a child would draw. It screams New England. It's home.


margalit said...

Roxanne, you brought tears to my eyes. I'm from Los Angeles, and although I've lived in Boston almost my entire life and I love it more than anywhere else I've ever lived. But I still hate the snow.

Binky said...

Here's to New England, long winters, appreciated summers, and all kinds of dirty water.

Fancypants said...

I've lived in New England my entire life, and Boston for the last 10 years of it, but I hate the snow, and quite honestly, a bunch of other things about Boston. STILL--this post was really great, and a nice reminder of all the lovely bits and pieces that make up the city and the region.

But snow can bite me. Also taxes.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I love it all - including the snow! Lovely tribute!

Rock the Cradle said...

You canoe. That's 50% New Englander right there.

Now you just need some snow shoes.
Or a good fire and a bowl of hot chocolate. They help keep the snow blah's away.

This gave me warm fuzzies, it did. Thanks!

Trish K said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I couldn't agree more..

I grew up here and am raising my kids here. I love everything about my hometown.

I have a great quote about Fenway Park as well which describes the park perfectly

The ballpark is the star. In the age of Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth, the era of Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams, through the empty-seats epoch of Don Buddin and Willie Tasby and unto the decades of Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice, the ballpark is the star. A crazy-quilt violation of city planning principles, an irregular pile of architecture, a menace to marketing consultants, Fenway Park works. It works as a symbol of New England's pride, as a repository of evergreen hopes, as a tabernacle of lost innocence. It works as a place to watch baseball." - Martin F. Nolan in A Ballpark, Not A Stadium (1999)

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

This is lovely. I have lived in New England for three years, and it sure feels like home. I think that the fact that I have endured (and not hated) 3 days of temperatures below 60 degrees over a two week period--in August--counts for something.

My daughter says seee-rup instead of sur-up (syrup) like a good New Englander and roote instead of rowte (route), so it's home for her as well.

Major Bedhead said...

This was a great post!

I love Massachusetts. I moved away, to Atlanta, for three years, and missed New England desperately the entire time. I don't think I could ever leave here again. Not permanently.