Four and a quarter miles: a measly 10-minute drive. On a good day, when I have the agility of a village runner training for the Olympics, a 40-minute run. That is the distance between my home in Winthrop, Mass.—the first town North of Boston—and downtown Boston. One would think with such easy accessibility, I would spend the majority of my time in the city: getting my daily coffee at some cafe on Newbury St., running the Charles every morning, or walking my dog through the public garden.
The truth, however, is that I am the most un-Boston Bostonian one will ever meet. I went to school in Newton throughout middle and high school, I secluded myself to activities around my hometown (rarely venturing outside its one bridge in and out of town), and I do not even have a Boston accent, despite my own father’s wicked elongation of “A’s.” The only truly “Boston” thing about me is my aggressive driving skills.
One would also imagine me an expert in the hidden gems of the city—knowing the best places to go to get a true taste (in the literal and metaphorical sense of the term) of the city. Unfortunately, to my inquirers’ dismays, I usually give the most generic suggestions for travel and exploration. (“Go to the frog pond,” “Newbury is always fun,” or the classic “the North End has some good restaurants.”)
I am ashamed to say that despite my proximity to a city, I could not tell you of the intimate hole-in-the-wall restaurants, or the cool art festivals that give Boston its historically and culturally rich identity. It is a shame, actually, that despite my 20 years of inhabiting this city—choosing to continue my residency through college and introducing myself as being from Boston—I could only really tell you the well-known places that any person with a travel guide to tell you about.
One day last year, one of my best friends hailing from Los Angeles told me about an art exhibit she was visiting in the city. “Have you ever heard of it?” she asked. I was ashamed to say that I had not. The SoWa First Fridays showcase an array of artists in the SoWa artist guild that open their doors for free on the first Friday of every month. Over 60 artists open their doors in the South End to display their work while entertaining art-goers with wine and cheese, all for free. Goers get to experience the cultural air of Boston while submerging themselves in a lesser-known event of city life.
How, I thought, could someone from the West Coast know about an event like this? What this proved to me was that I lacked a desire to know my city: the nooks and crannies, the hidden gems, the events and places that make Boston unique. My friend’s sense of self discovery inspired me: I gained a sense of exploration as I desired to know more about Boston than what appears on the surface—a sports town and shopping destination. I wanted to become a true, knowledgeable Bostonian. All I needed was a desire for discovery.
When given the opportunity to become a columnist this semester for the Metro section, it felt as if I would finally be given that opportunity. Over the next few weeks, as I sit down to write about this city and all its intricate, intimate settings in my upcoming columns, I’ll be able to share my own discoveries in this city, expanding my knowledge and love for my supposed home for the past 20 years. It is here that I will become a true Bostonian, sharing my growing love for the city and all its hidden gems.
Featured Graphic by Fransisco Ruela / Heights Editor