in Common

The past week has hit my heart hard. Witnessing images, a midst bits of news, and reading words of support and concern across the internet, of tragedy at the Boston marathon and ensuing chase and violence from Kendall Square into Watertown later in the week, have us all trying to understand. I find myself reflecting on the city I spent my college years in, like so many countless others have.These were the cities (Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, for me) that I became an almost-adult in, and decided on paths for my future. 

In its own way, I wanted this to offer my love for the city and area I then knew so dear, and the scenes and lives taken and affected this past week, and beyond. I’m sorry, Boston. I know you’re strong.

Towards Boylston, from across the Common

These photos from my last visit, in 2010, are simply a small ode with memories here and there….somethings I’ve been looking at to keep my own peace lately, and I wanted to share them.

Boston, from across the Charles River in Cambridge

I spent my final year in the Boston area residing right around the corner from the Garment District (which phew, still exists) in awfully amazing brownstone. As in, super cheap rent, the constant smell of Frito pie from one floor and intriguing curries from another, cockroaches in the wall and sometimes in the fridge, garbage thrown out the window, a no one knows who’s-actually-on-the-lease type of apartment, but someone-left-an-AC-that-kinda-works but the bay windows are great, amazing.

Portland St. a few steps away from that old apartment on Harvard St.  in Cambridge

This final apartment was a short walk between two stops on the Red line, Kendall and Central, and I was pretty obsessed with spending my free time in the latter. I felt so almost grown up and purposeful on my brisk or humid walks to the T. It was the place I first lived with my then kitten, Zelda, and I hold those memories dear, cockroaches and all (plus, the little darling scared most of them off).

Walking down Tremont St. to the Little Building.

This takes me back to all those dining hall lunches, where watching the hot wok cooks actually taught me a thing or two about spices and cooking, and somehow, spending  just over a year saving up for my move Northwest, at the then-new Loews Theater on the Common when it first opened. Unlike my other college memories, I regret every minute of that soul-sucking gig.

Chinatown, Boston

The former site of Buddha’s Delight, the first vegetarian restaurant I ever visited, my freshman year of college. It’s now home to My Thai, and back upstairs again. I simply didn’t comprehend the concept of a vegetarian restaurant on my first visit (despite being vegetarian for years), and held each dish with suspicious. Fast forward two years, and I was stopping in for a lunch special at least once a week.

Beantown falafel love

And this, which I knew as Jerusalem and later turned into Olive Tree Cafe’s cart, and seems to have since closed again, was my first foray into regular food cart dining, outside of the roadside knishes with my grandfather, of course. Gosh, I remember grabbing $3 (was it even $2.75?!) falafel wraps, and again, hardly believing they could be vegan or even vegetarian – and that freaking delicious. I found myself devouring them on a near daily basis to and fro classes and annoying jobs.

Boston Common

After a few years of staying put on the West Coast, I longed for snow and much to my friends’ disbelief, booked this pictured trip for February.

Alas, this little bit was the only snowfall I remember seeing.

Ice skating on the Common

Something I’ve never done, but I can recall a few wild winter scampers across the frozen Duck Pond. Good times, good times.

Historic Back Bay

With parents from Brooklyn, and growing up just outside of New York City, I thought it was too much of the obvious choice to attend college in, but Boston….it just felt right. I visited for the very first time with my late mother when I was 17, and was hooked on Back Bay. It was big city, historic, and yet, felt so inviting and conquerable. My alma mater, Emerson, has since given up most (and perhaps, all) of its Back Bay real estate for the other side of the Common, but how sweet it was to be a part of this neighborhood for three special years.

I spent my final two collegiate years (after, well, a precious summer in Davis Square, Mission Hill of all places, a semester in the Netherlands, and finally, Cambridge) loathing the humidity but looking forward to the summertime – when one could take the B or E lines without hundreds of college students cramming into every ride, grab tofu soft serve around Kenmore Square, and wander the Harvard Square neighborhood in a bit more peace. I knew it was fleeting, and that I was set on the ‘other’ Portland, but it was swell to experience.

The vegan strip in Allston, currently home to Peace O’Pie and the classic Grasshopper (which despite many run-ins with roaches on my table, I continued to return), for the No Name, #46, tasty hot & sour soup and PPK meet-ups, among other things.

See you again, my old friend.


  1. I’m going to pretend that I didn’t read the part about Grasshopper roaches. I have never seen them and, therefore, they do not exist.

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