Being back in Boston always leaves me with some intensely conflicted feelings to sort through.
I mean, I love this city. I’ve loved it since the first time I saw it, sitting on the roof of some B&B in the South End with my mom as I resettled here for grad school. I love the changing seasons, the way it’s more muted than the chaotic shifts in the Midwest, like it doesn’t have to prove itself anymore. I love hearing the shitty green line grumble its way down Comm Ave. But it’s not mine anymore
And I think most people know this feeling in some way or another. There’s a Twilight Zone quality to it, almost dreamlike, in a way. You know where you are, you recognize it, you know it intimately, but some things are just… wrong.
At this point I’m far enough removed from DC that I only notice specific places of meaning, like the dead Barnes & Noble in Georgetown where I went the first night of my life there, during freshman orientation at GW, when I walked there with a boy, and we bought a copy of Ginsberg’s Howl, and read it together all night. I never saw him again and don’t remember his name. But I never had a life there anyway, not even nascent tendrils of roots; only a useless degree from a school I barely interacted with.
But in Boston I existed, I was a person here, as much as I ever have been, and it’s impossible not to somehow think time will have halted since the day you left. Which, of course, it doesn’t.
It’s been eight years since I lived here, which kind of maybe in that not-so-sweet-spot it’s the same if you don’t pay too much attention, but then suddenly there’s a Target by your old gym? And the Thai place in Cleveland Circle is now only like a block away but weird and decrepit, and you almost don’t want to walk by your old apartments anymore, because there are so many ghosts, so many things that are just a little bit wrong.
This fades, of course — so quickly that you feel a little guilty about it, maybe. I wrote a poem once, back when I could write poetry: photographs become farewells and descriptions become eulogies. Stay, and the eulogies become descriptions again. Target is no longer the grave of whatever you tangentially remember; it’s just fucking Target. But it’s transitional, and when you never stay anywhere, it doesn’t settle.
But I just question so much my decision to leave, what my life would be had I stayed. And that’s a vicious rabbithole to wander down too often, it will eat you alive — but it is there. I had a life here, ish, I had a job with benefits — with Prospects — with Room For Advancement — it is conceivable I’d be a real person had I stayed. Maybe I’d have a home, stability, something like relationships – maybe even a career. It does eat me alive, a little bit.
I had hope here, I guess. I had positioned myself on the trajectory I thought I belonged on: prestigious graduate school on scholarship, language, all that shit — like, maybe, maybe, I was okay. What if I had worked through all the things and somehow… something?
But if I hadn’t left, would I have found myself still here, instead of back here sometimes, back in Florida sometimes?
Like — which is better or worse, waking 36 years old in a job you’ve hated since the day you walked in, but sustainable, like a real person — or waking up not knowing if you’ll survive the next year, let alone the rest of your life, but you do things, you go places.
It’s easy to say the latter but it’s hard to do.
I know the answer, of course, but I walk down the streets of this city, and I feel like I’m home, but I can’t stay here because I don’t belong; I turn my palms upwards and I wish I had answers to anything.
I said at the start that this is a blog about depression and how I deal/don’t deal with it. Mostly it’s easier to just post pictures of places and things and people because it’s evidence of my existence. If I hadn’t left Boston I might never have left Boston; I like myself a little more because of the things I’ve done.