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April 12, 2011

Coming to Terms with Boston

For runners, Boston is not a city. It is a word: an ambition, a goal, a dream. I'm not writing this post as a runner though. While I have my own dreams of crossing the line at Copley Square, Boston has meant a lot more to me than a marathon and it was only until a few weeks ago that I finally came to terms with Boston.

*Warning: This is a long post.*

Until a few weeks ago, my response to Boston was always: I [insert expletive here] hate Boston. Because in my heart, I truly believed that I did hate Boston but as my trip to Boston for this weekend's marathon festivities quickly approaches, I've found myself getting more and more excited about returning to the city that less than a year ago, I called home.

For the record, I'm not running the Boston Marathon this year. I'm running the 5k and meeting up with the incredible group of Boston-bound bloggers who are either running the marathon or traveling just to be part of the festivities.

 
 Last year's Boston Blog Meet-Up

I moved to Boston about 6 weeks after graduating college. The only time I had been there before moving was for an overnight trip for my job interview 2 months before. I was staying in an apartment (of the woman who would later be my boss) on Charles Street just a block from Boston Common. I was in a boot from a sprained ankle and was having a lot of difficulty moving around, so I spent the 36 hours I was in Boston reading and watching movies in her cozy apartment while she was in India.

See, I had been her intern during my time abroad in London and we been close friends ever since. Sometime during the winter before I graduated, she sent me an e-mail asking if I would be interested in a job as a Research Assistant with the Division that she worked at. The interview was a mere formality and I met with her boss and stayed in her apartment while she was away but I already knew I had the job.

Fast forward past my college graduation, my trip to Africa and my first few months on the job. I loved my job. I was doing some really exciting work and loved the girls I interned for. One of them was a close family friend of the Big Boss's so he would take us sailing on his yacht on the weekends. I lived by myself in an beautiful apartment with a private roof deck overlooking the Charles River. I practically lived on top of Fenway Park. I didn't know anyone but was slowly making friends and I was making money! Life was great.

 The view from my Beantown apartment

Then October rolled around. Baseball season was over, it started to get cold and I got caught in the middle of a disagreement between my boss and another person at work that left me crying on the phone after 11pm phone calls on Friday nights and 8am phone calls on Saturday mornings from my boss's boss. I started working 60 hour weeks to meet a deadline and felt like all of the pressure at the office was on me. The interns left and because of the disagreement I got caught in between, there were no more picnic lunches with the Big Boss or after work martinis and manis with my immediate supervisor. I was told I would be laid off by Christmas and to start looking for other jobs. Locked into a lease in Boston, I started sending resumes out to every imaginable place related to my field in Boston. I was studying for the GRE and applying to grad school, trying to sort out my relationship and stressed beyond belief.

I went to Texas for Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and despite giving more than 6 weeks notice for my travel plans was berated for not answering my calls/e-mails while away. Life at work started leaking into my nights and weekends and when I didn't answer a phone call or e-mail on a weekend, I was ripped apart for it. I made frequent trips to the office bathroom to cry and with the onset of Boston's winter, I became miserable. But, shortly before Christmas, and my laying off, I was told that I could stay on but for a pay cut. I took a $7,500 pay cut to stay on in a job that I hated because I felt like I had no other options.

In February, fed up by it all, I quit. After a particularly trying day involving my not being able to get my boss on a flight to London in the middle of the European volcanic ash ordeal that grounded some 15,000 flights, I sent an e-mail explaining that I couldn't take it anymore and I quit. My boss (who I was friends with, although our relationship had become very tested) hadn't been in the office that day. When she got my e-mail, she called me, took me out for lunch and made promises to me that things would get better.

 Another view from my apartment: cold, snowy, dreary Boston

They got worse. If you've never been to Boston in February, don't go. It's absolutely miserable. On my birthday, it was -12 degrees. I was miserable. My relationships with my family, friends and boyfriend became very strained. They were tired of hearing me complain. That's when I started running and that's when I started this blog. I put on a happy face to write to the handful of readers I had accumulated and slogged through the next few months until another particularly contentious issue involving weather and a flight delay that kept me from making it to the office finally forced me to quit. I couldn't stand being treated the way I was. My "contract" which was never actually formalized was up in 6 weeks and I couldn't take it anymore. I gave exactly 2 weeks notice and left.

I wish I could say I never looked back but here I am, looking back. My relationships with the people I worked with have made me terrified to ever have a real job again. Being locked into a lease with no other options made me terrified to ever enter into any kind of leased living arrangement again. Cold weather with no end in sight made me feel like I was trapped in Bosnia again. I hated Boston and everything about it. I was so miserable living in that city and so powerless to doing anything that the only thing I could do to was to hate the city itself.

Lately, I've come to remember how much I loved running along the Charles and eating breakfast on my roof, walking up and down Newbury Street with friends and grocery shopping in Coolidge Corner, baseball games at Fenway Park and drinking beers outside the Cask & Flagon. I've come to realize that Boston is an unbelievably beautiful city and that I lived in a really, really bad situation there. Had I actually known people living there and had some kind of support system other than the phone, things might have been different but I know all of this now and I've finally come to terms with Boston and I'm so excited to go back there this weekend.

Dancing on ""The Big Dig"

There are a lot of things about the time I lived in Boston that I still need to "get over" but time heals everything and I'm a lot stronger than I was then and those changes are slowly, but surely coming. And one day, I'm going to take Boston by storm and pour my heart and soul into Boston, as a race, not as a city, and give Boston everything that was taken away from me while I was there. Until that time comes, I'll keep running and keep training and living my life knowing that I made it out of there with a few minor scratches but none that are leaving any scars.

I've finally come to terms with Boston and that is something I am damn proud of. And one day, I'll really come to terms with Boston: by running Boston.

5 comments:

  1. This was a very well written post my dear! I cannot wait to see you this weekend!!!

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  2. Wow, it is so crazy how certain places an things can take you back in time and remind you of moments in your life that you want to forget. Well, whatever you had to deal with at that job obviously made you a stronger person. And it is also the birth place of your running "career". If it wasn't for Boston maybe you would have never taken up running again. So you say your boss was your "friend"? Are you still in touch with her? I don't think I would ever be able to still be friends. I know people say "forgive and forget" but I say "maybe forgive but never forget".

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  3. Your Boston situation kind of sounds like my current situation. I'm frustrated at work and due to the visa situation I'm kind of stuck there. I would take a pay cut, I just wanna enjoy my job and not waking up and counting the days until the weekend. You were so strong and quit and I'm proud of you!

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  4. That was a beautiful reflection! Your charisma and constant ambition continue to inspire me everyday; most importantly, it makes me a very proud friend of Miss Christy, the 24 year-old Masters student who is taking the world by storm! :)

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  5. i had to comment for the embry riddle hoodie... represent! haha

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