Two Months An Expat

Two months ago I moved to Boston, MA to live with my wife and I feel like I’m starting to get to know the city. Like every city of a certain size Boston has it’s advantages and disadvantages as a home. I like Boston and the things that irritate me are not enough to make me want to relocate. The rusting and dented subway trains with their hard metal seats, rusting exteriors and frequent breakdowns that make me feel like the city purchased them as a job lot from a former Communist country in eastern Europe without obtaining the manuals are irritating. The same goes for Boston drivers who appear to be a special brand of asshole that has one hand on their mobile phone and the other poised on the horn, ready to sound their outrage at any moment. The other day I was sat on a bus when the bus driver and another driver were involved in a heated argument through the window that would have made a chat show host proud. None of the other passengers batted an eyelid although as with public transport everywhere it would take a 40mph crash to draw peoples attention away from their phones.

One of the things that I really like about Boston is that the city is an attractive blend of old and new that somehow just works. Mostly. There is some hideous architecture like the Government Center that has the aesthetic appeal of a goats rear end but every city has buildings it would rather forget. Boston’s lively enough that there’s always something happening and not dangerous enough for that something to be a stabbing or a shooting.The tourists can be irritating but that’s the price you pay for living in a nice place with lots of history, even if a most of that history is anti British. A fellow Brit was telling me the other day how weird it was to hear the anti British parts of the Boston Tea Party Experience and I agree, it is a little weird but I’m sure I’ll get used to all the Revolutionary War references eventually. I’m sure I’ll also get used to buying alcohol in liquor stores because you can’t get it in supermarkets in puritan Massachusetts which is a bit of a pain when you are used to buying beer and cheese in one transaction.

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I like the way the old and the new combine to make an interesting cityscape

Another thing that I like about the city is the weather, there are a lot more sunny days than I was used to in the UK and summer days are warmer. When it is too hot the buses and trains have air conditioning (something the UK would benefit from!) and although sometimes just walking from our house to the station makes me want to volunteer myself for the ice bucket challenge those days are not too frequent. Ice cream and soda are both very cheap here and help to make summer a lot more bearable. I have to admit that I’m dreading winter as it will be much colder and icier than I’m used to but I have about 40 layers of clothing in my wardrobe and I’m willing to use them all if required. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the famous autumn colours of New England although I will not be referring to seeing the trees change colours as “leaf peeping” like New Englanders do. That just sounds creepy and weird.

A few years ago when I visited Boston for the first time, the city was stuck in that unloved time of year when the grip of winter has yet to surrender to the warmth of spring. Tired after over a month of travel across the US I sat on a damp park bench on Boston Common and wished that I didn’t have to return to England because I felt that I had so much left to do here. I never could have imagined that less than three years after that day I would be a resident of that very city. This evening I returned to the same park bench and reflected on what’s happened since then. There are a lot of cities I liked in the US; New Orleans, San Antonio, Portland ME and even New York, but I feel pretty lucky that I ended up in Boston.

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