Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to Boston

Last week, my one son and I had to make a trip to Boston to see a retinal specialist. While I wish that such a trip was not necessary, we decided to take advantage of our time in New England to visit a few colleges/universities that are on my son's "schools to be considered" list.

My son is not only kind and delightful, he is smart and a wonderful student. We reviewed his college wish list with members of the high school guidance office, and got to work. The presentations that we heard during our visits were so inspiring, I found myself wishing that I was back in world of academia.

I thought that the visits would help my son to condense his wish list, but he was completely enthralled with each school.

The odyssey is underway.

While in the Boston area, my son wanted to visit some of the places that he has heard stories of. I lived in the Cambridge/Watertown/Newton area for around 10 years and have my share of entertaining tales from that period of my life.
I showed him where I learned to sail on the Charles River. Community Boating Inc. in Boston is open to anyone who wants to learn to sail. As a young, single person I thought this would be a fun way to meet people and learn something new. The primary and most memorable thing that I learned is that the water of the Charles River is actually somewhat cold when you fall in.
We drove by my favorite third floor apartment in Newton Center that I found by leaving humorous fliers at homes where I thought I would like to live. One hundred fliers resulted in one phone call and the perfect apartment. How could I not love an apartment where I would wake up in the morning and smell bagels baking at the nearby Rosenfeld Bagel Company!

The spot that my son most wanted to visit was this Harvard Square corner. I spent many Saturdays under that tree.
After losing my job with a small landscape architecture firm in Boston, I did find a part time job as the 'Salad Bar Lady' in a Harvard Square restaurant. Thank goodness, for the public's safety, that restaurant is no longer in business. (Oh, the frightening things you learn as a restaurant insider.) Working part time allowed me to continue my search for a job as a landscape architect, but interviews were hard to come by. I unfortunately had a lot of free time and to avoid being in the apartment that I shared with a crazy boyfriend/girlfriend couple, I would spend the day walking around Cambridge since it was the only thing that I could afford to do.
During one of my epic walks, I stopped at the sidewalk craft show at the First Parish Unitarian Church at Church Street and Mass. Ave., just across the street from Harvard Yard. Being an aspiring ceramicist fresh from my class at the Cambridege Center for Adult Education, I stopped to admire a table of pottery. I began talking with the potter, asking him about his glazes (after all, the disappointment of my ugly, dumpy pot was brand new to me). He was so kind and generous with his knowledge and encouraged me to continue my pursuits with clay.
I thanked him for his time and had walked around half a block away when I heard someone yelling, "Oh, Miss!!". I turned to see the potter running down the sidewalk, calling for me.

When he caught up to me, he asked if I wanted a job selling his pottery on Saturdays. This was the most unorthodox job offer I had ever received, but I listened to my inner voice and said "Yes". (I remember it coming out like a long, questioning with just a hint of suspicion "Yeesssss??!") I think he appreciated and understood my surprise and told me that if I liked the idea, to show up at the corner the following Saturday at set-up time. One week later, I was there unloading pottery from his old Ford pick-up truck, and that was the beginning of several years of employment and friendship.

I found that I enjoyed being a part of the street fair community that included "the potter", his then-girlfriend who sold jewelry and imported goods from Guatemala, the other potter who became a friend (she on piano, a Berklee School of Music friend on violin and I on flute would get together every other week to play classical music), the sausage vendor who was working with Harvard law students to file a lawsuit against a major restaurant chain for stealing his name (I refused to take part in their crazy deposition), the Harvard Square homeless guy who latched onto the fair and who I saved soda cans for. We resembled a dysfunctional family. After finding a job with a Cambridge landscape architecture firm, I kept selling pottery on Saturdays.
Even dysfunctional family members can kind of love each other.

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