When we lived in Boston our family consisted of me, Ben, and our dog Selma. We lived off of 40 dollars a week for groceries (and what we didn't spend we kept in a jar in dollar bills in our kitchen to use for eating out, which usually meant a cup of coffee). We lived in a two bedroom apartment, which was beneath another two bedroom apartment in one of those classic Boston double or triple decker houses. We would sometimes buy a single ingredient at the farmers market and then spend the afternoon finding a good way to prepare it. Everyday we would go for a long long walk (even when it was really cold outside), and we would idle around the local park while the dogs ran around. We spent a lot of time talking about the stuff of life (raising children and living well and justly) but had lived oh so very little of it. We made some amazingly good friends, and it was no surprise to have someone drop by our place unexpectedly for dinner, which I am now realizing was probably a very small amount of food compared to what we prepare now. We worked our way through the "More With Less" cookbook, and we made the Simple Granola every single week (without the coconut, because that didn't fit in our grocery budget).
It was a time of very simple living, the time that this blog was first started, and then the time that we had sweet baby Zosia, whose every cry was greeted with our huge smiles because were just so happy to have her with us. We lived in Boston for three years. Only three years, but it feels like such a special, mythic time for our family. We love that city. Like really really love it, love the way that it is this bustling, ever transforming city centered around the pursuit of knowledge, and love the way that even though the city is constantly renewed with new minds and new faces it stays exactly the same in so many other ways, and every single brick in the sidewalk remains just as it was nine years ago, and just as it will be a hundred years from now. And we even didn't mind those long New England winters, the brown snow banks lining the streets, because the day of a blizzard felt so magical.
Our hearts were full to return now, having lived quite a bit of life, with five more children than when we have left (in all stages of childhood), and two new cities we have called home as a family. I think during those nine years, we have done a good bit of sorting out what things really matter, not without growing pains and a good dose of heart ache. We still cook out of the "More with Less Cookbook." We have renewed our faith in the Church, lost sweet Selma, become students of the discipline of true selflessness, which we endeavor with great challenges to live every day. Those amazing friends are still with us, and seeing their faces is such good food for the soul.
And now that I have gone all nostalgic and sentimental on you, let me tell you a little about our visit! We could not visit Boston without spending some time in Somerville and Cambridge, the old streets that we called home. We visited our old apartment and were heartened to see that the street had not changed at all, complete with the secret cut through that used to lead to Johnny's Food Master and now leads to Whole Foods. The sweet Bostonian family next door is still there, dogs and all. We walked down to Harvard, stopped by the Biscuit for some coffee and treats, pointed out all of the restaurants that we never really ate at (Ha! $40 a week for food!). I showed the kids the classrooms where I was a student, and was delighted to see that everything is just as loveably stuffy as when I left, that the campus still has this vibrant hum and energy.
We were really in town to celebrate a friend's wedding in a beautiful ceremony at our old church right on the Boston Common, which gave us the chance to show the kids the Public Garden, which has featured in our family imagination every since the first time we read "Make Way for Ducklings." It's one of the places that we somehow never visited when we actually lived close by, but it is beautiful, and I think our visit solidified Robert McCloskey's book into our Family Top 10 Children's Book list.
And then before we left town, we just had to get in the frog pond and stomp around until we were wet and desperately in need of a clothing change, because that seems to be an emerging theme of any trip we take! And then we loaded up into our 12 passenger rental van (*loved* it!), and hit the road, driving towards some warm Atlantic water.
Next stop, Cape Cod!