It’s been almost exactly 10 years since I moved from Billerica, Massachusetts (just north of Boston) to Tucson, Arizona, and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. I’ve been happy enough here in the Southwest, but there are some things I miss about living Back East:
- Proximity. Everything is very close together. A trip to the Berkshire mountains (or my old alma mater, UMASS/Amherst) was only a two-hour drive. The historic and cultural mecca that is Boston proper was less than an hour. Skiing in New Hampshire, swimming down the Cape, classes at any of the dozens of top-notch schools – all 2 hours away or less.
- My private hide-away. Years ago, we purchased a piece of land with the plan to retire (someday) to the back woods of Maine. It’s 14 acres of blueberries and pine trees on a private, fresh-water lake, just two hours north of our house. This meant we could and did visit often.
- Real seasons. Nothing like 3 months of bitter cold to make you really appreciate the thaw of spring!
- America’s Technology Highway. Tons of technology companies line Route 128, and fill the space between 128 and 495 to the West. As a technical writer, this worked out pretty well for me!
- Family near by. This one became more important after I had my kids – and not just because grandma was willing to babysit for free! I think it’s really important for my children to know their relatives so that they will understand where they come from (and why I am the way I am)!
- Old friends. I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and though very few of my high-school friends still live there now, many of them remained in the area. There’s just something comfortable about hanging out with someone who saw me with permed hair and wearing a smock-top and decided to remain my friend anyway.
- The T. No, not the letter T! I miss the MBTA – that’s the local public transportation. I’d call it the subway, but big chunks of it run above ground. There’s even a song about the T in Boston.
This video was made by the Kingston Trio in the late 1950s, but the original version was a campaign song from the 1930s.
- Colonial style houses.I can’t help it, it’s what I was raised in. I like a house with layers, not all spread out and flat. I like attics and basements, neither of which are easy to get here in the desert. I like wallpaper and fireplaces and staircases.
- Bowling. I guess most people call it “candlepin”, but I didn’t even know there WAS another kind of bowling until I went to college. I’m not very good at either type, but I don’t embarrass myself quite as badly at candlepin.
- The 99. This local chain had TWO restaurants within a mile or two of my house in Billerica. The “big” 99 was good for large groups and evening events – for a while, there was even a disco-dance kind of place in the basement, but that’s gone now. The “little” 99 was more low-key, with the nicest bartenders you’d ever want to meet. Typical bar food – steak, burgers, chicken, and pasta – but lots of it at reasonable prices. This was also the most convenient after-work stop for most of the jobs I had. I’m still grateful for friendships formed and nurtured at the 99.
Don’t get me wrong – I like living in Tucson! It’s completely opened my eyes to all kinds of new things. But sometimes, you know, you just want to wallow in the old and familiar. I’ll have to plan a visit soon.