20 Sep 2013

working for the weekend

I’ve been living in Boston for more than four years now. Unbelievable, but true. Four years is a long time. Longer than I lived in my college town. Definitely longer than we planned on staying here. Four years is long enough to forget you are living in a city, but also render the suburbs a bit foreign. I have, occasionally, marveled over a particularly large parking lot. But most of the time city-dwelling doesn’t seem impressive. Wake up, commute, work, come home, cook, chat, sleep. Same human condition, smaller parking lots.

It’s been four years, but I don’t think I’d call myself “settled’ in this place. No. I think most of my city-dwelling friends feel the same sense of drifty impermanence about their Boston lives – it’s fine for now, but life could take you somewhere else. Of course, when pressed, most of us can’t pin down where that somewhere else will be, which worries me. Are we, the drifty, childless twenty-somethings who couldn’t possibly live in Boston forever all going to end up living in Boston forever? Even though we all want to leave, are we all stuck, already?

Maybe we’re already stuck, but we sure do not acknowledge it. In fact, the folks I know live like they might leave any day. Or at least, they weekend like they might leave any day. There’s probably a metaphor for life somewhere in there, but all I know is that my friends are wont to turn down my more austere weekend plans because they are going to the Vineyard. Or up to Vermont, or over to Connecticut, taking the bus down to New York, apple picking with their cousins, hiking with their friends from college, [insert any other adorable twenty-something-in-New-England activity here]. I made some posturing a year ago that I would like to join the weekending yuppie fun (please note the “because of course we’re leaving” tone, and yet, we remain), but I think two weeks after I wrote that post, our car died. Then a few weeks later, a tree branch smashed our windshield. We’ve been car-less ever since, and it’s difficult to have yuppie-fun in New England without wheels.

We finally crossed one off the list, though; last weekend our friends invited us out to Cape Cod for the weekend. And while visiting the Cape might have been on my Yuppie-Fun-I-Promise-We’re-Moving bucket list, it is definitely the preferred destination for any and all permanent Bostonians. And I can 100% see why: it was like driving into a beautiful green suburb, where every house has beach chairs and a deck, a pool and a hot tub. And if you take a turn and drive a few miles to the north or south, then you are on the beach. The kitschy dive brunch places and neighborhood bars are well-populated and clean. There’s a Starbucks AND a Dunkin Donuts. All the neighbors wave when you drive by. Your dad has a boat. It’s a wonderland.

Sometimes I feel like Boston is eating me alive. This is probably largely due to reasons that would preclude me from ever owning a place on the Cape, but maybe that’s how everyone survives here. You have a beautiful Cape house to escape to, where it’s always vacation, where your weekday worries aren’t. I suppose it’s different if you’re not staying in a gorgeous rental home free of charge, drinking margaritas in a hot tub with your friends like a spoiled rich teenager, but I definitely see the appeal.

Let me summarize the logical flow of this post as such:

City Living is Rough, therefore we 20-something yuppies pretend like we aren’t going to stay here even though we can’t figure out where else we’d want to go. While engaging in such I’m-basically-just-a-tourist type weekending behavior, I discovered that City Living is probably better if you have a Beach House.

Important addendum: teacher salary + librarian salary / City Living = you are never, ever going to have a Beach House, so you better hope your dear sweet friends don’t move to Australia and leave you without the comforts of a delightful rent-free weekend on the Cape.

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