If my existence could be traced on a map, I’m sure you would see large dots over my home and work and strong lines connecting the two. Then, if you squinted, I’m sure you would see fainter lines connecting me to some places I’m more likely to visit, like my favorite cafe or the grocery store. Finally, if you looked even more closely, I’m sure you would see the faintest of lines in places that I only visit on occasion or, perhaps, even just once.
When considering these imaginary lines over a real map of Boston (my home), it is quite evident that my reality makes up just a few specks on this city map. If everyone had unique lines running over the city, I’m sure that we would see that our paths intersect, likely more than once, in our own communities, however, I am sure there are very many people whose lines have never and will never touch at all.
One of my part-time jobs takes me all over Boston. Through this job, I get to see parts of the city that I would never otherwise have any reason to go. Recently, I was in Seaport. Seaport is one of Boston’s newer neighborhoods; development of this area largely began in the early 21st century. If Boston were a house, Seaport would be the unfinished game room, that promises shiny new toys and furniture for its residents. Seaport is home to the World Trade Center and the Institute of Contemporary Art. The buildings here are so sleek and modern that it almost has a sterile feel to it.
Many of Boston’s other metro areas including Allston, Brookline, and Cambridge have a familiar clutter to them. These areas have homes, apartments, churches, parks, and other pointy and smooth structures that do not seem to have any sort of unifying aspect that integrates them into a community. In a way, the older areas are a hodgepodge of oddness that is united only by virtue of their city limits. Seaport, on the other hand, has a unifying facade, characterized by cold, glass boxes and rectangular, brick, warehouse-like structures. While real estate is certainly booming here, this area does not exactly evoke feelings of home.
I have nothing against Seaport, but Seaport is also not my Boston. When considering my little imaginary lines on a map of Boston, there are many areas, including Seaport, that I wish to explore more. However, I am also very lucky that I love my community and am quite happy that my little imaginary lines are not drawn over Seaport. Cities are nice in this way. If you do not like an area, relocating just 15 mins away in another direction could totally change your reality.
Life is funny in this way. I am sitting here in my apartment building; here is my everything. Just next door, is someone else’s everything. Even though we are neighbors and share the same walls, electricity and water, our realities are definite, separate, and unique. I do not know who you are, Dear Reader, but I hope your walls are beautiful and your little imaginary lines take you to nice places.