Boston, Graveyards, And Retreating Into The City

Every day I walk past the Evergreen Cemetery on the way back to my off-campus apartment after class. I give a casual head nod to Sullivan, McCarthy, and O’Malley—the names engraved on the stones that stretch across the space behind Walsh Hall.

I’ve always thought of the cemetery as very ironic. Isn’t it odd that a graveyard is positioned next to Boston College—a place of such vibrant life and energy? At this age, the last thing we think about is ending up in the ground.

But as I pass by the hundreds of gravestones each day, I stop for a moment and forget about my classes, the Heights articles I still have to edit, and the party on Friday night. Instead, I think about what I’m doing here and how BC is shaping what I think is important in my life.

As I sit in a coffee shop in downtown Boston on a cold, windy Saturday morning, I think back to my two years covering Greater Boston, and what I want to share in this space for the last time. I’ve had the opportunity to write about countless startups, restaurants, and events in the city. I’ve interviewed the mayor of Boston and a presidential candidate. I’ve questioned Uber, student off-campus housing, and Boston’s failed Olympic bid. I’ve sacrificed so much time, sleep, and GPA points learning more about the city and everything it has to offer—but what have I learned from it all?

Let’s go back to the beginning. Two years ago, I wrote my first column about finding your Boston—your own version of the city and the components that make it special for you. As a second-semester freshman, Boston meant singing “Sweet Caroline” at Red Sox games, watching street performers outside of Faneuil Hall, and having dinner at Nico in the North End.

Now, as I look back at my time as a metro editor, I realize that my perception of Boston has evolved. Last week I came across a line in a book by St. Augustine that said we are “restless until our hearts are at rest with God.” This really resonates with me, because I now realize the city is what allows me to be at rest. The city helps me reflect on what is important. It is where I can find peace at a time in my life when nothing ever seems to slow down.

Boston is my own form of a retreat. Going into the city is like my own mini Kairos or 48 Hours. It’s an escape. A change of scenery. It’s a way to break out of the BC Bubble and find the simple joys in my life, like a damn good cup of coffee, reading a book along the Charles River, or walking around Coolidge Corner on a classic New England fall day—things that I too often don’t experience on a daily basis rushing from class to class, handing in that poetry essay I stayed up way too late writing the night before.

As I sit here in this coffee shop thinking back to my first column, I realize that I thought I had Boston figured out freshman year. I’ve spent the past two-and-a-half years writing about this place that my parents and relatives told me would significantly impact my college experience—even though it seemed like BC students had everything they could possibly want right here in Chestnut Hill. But I’ve found that all of my time spent off campus has helped me redefine the value of the city and its ability to help me reflect on my time at BC.

By the time this column is printed, I will have made my last walk back from the Heights office well past midnight on a Wednesday.

And as I walk past the graveyard, I won’t be thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list or my plans this weekend. I will be thinking about Boston—and the next time I’ll be making my way into the city. I will acknowledge Sullivan, McCarthy, and O’Malley once again before crossing the T tracks on Comm. Ave. toward South St.

And I’ll feel alive.

Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphics

About Bennet Johnson 96 Articles
Bennet Johnson was the Metro Editor for The Heights in 2015 and Business Manager in 2016. You can probably still find him wandering around Boston, wearing his 'Minnesota Nice' T-shirt. Follow him on Twitter @bennet_15.