To Boston and Back

Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston

I flew to Boston last weekend for a special event that I anticipated for weeks. I left Boston in 2007 for a new job in New Haven, a whole 2.5 hours to the south, but rarely went back even though it was close. But I’d missed it. I missed the history, the bustle, the traditions, my church and the choir, the weather. And then I moved to Texas; quick visits weren’t possible anymore.

So I was super excited to get an invitation to go to a 25th wedding anniversary party for two special people, having sung at their wedding years before. The bride was a member of our choir, and her father described the wedding as a “concert accompanied by vows.” I knew there would be many other choir friends present, and I’ve missed that choir like my right arm. I had to go.

Saturday night was magical, seeing my happy friends and meeting their talented, creative children. Catching up with those I hadn’t seen in years as though that time was just a blink of an eye. As one friend said, “It was like, ‘Yes, that’s you, I had you on my heart all the time’.” I had spirited conversations with spouses I’d never met, gave and received hugs, shared wine and song and delicious food with wonderful dinner companions I haven’t seen in ages.

And there was music. How could there not be, given how important it is to the happy couple? The band was fun, playing Motown and standards, for dancing and for the caberet songs that seemed spontaneous but weren’t. It was like old times – and then they called the Trinity Kwah alums up to sing two pieces that we sang at the wedding 25 years before (“Rise Up My Love” by Healey Willan, and “Ubi Caritas” by Durufle). And for other occasions, to be sure – we all knew the music by heart and hadn’t rehearsed, but the sound knitted together seamlessly under the direction of our fearless director. It was Magic.

Trinity Church Reflected in the
John Hancock Building, Boston

Sunday I went to church at my former church, the gorgeous and historic Trinity Church at Copley Square. And I was disappointed. It was not realistic to think it would be the same but in my mind, I thought it would be all that and more. Congregational singing was minimal which made me crazy because music was such a huge part of my life in that place. But in a way, it’s good that I wasn’t blown away because then I would be even sadder to have left it behind.

After church, I lunched on Newbury Street with a law librarian friend, comparing notes about her new job, cats, and Irish genealogy among other topics. The afternoon was an adventure on the “hop on, hop off” trolley which has graduated to buses instead of trolleys. I’ve seen the inside of all the historic places and walked the Freedom Trail dozens of times. What I really wanted was just to ride around and see Boston without trying to drive in it, to see the changes post-Big Dig – and boy, there were many. So much construction everywhere! A little shopping after, a lobster roll for dinner, and early to bed before an early morning flight home.

What I hadn’t really understood was that traveling itself would be very hard. I hadn’t flown in almost 4 years and plane seats – and bathrooms! – have gotten a lot smaller. My body is not in good shape and I traveled with a folding cane to provide extra support and balance. Hiking through the airports was exhausting. Walking through the city was slow and lumbering. My sciatica was in full force with pain up and down my right leg. I couldn’t walk far or long without stopping, short of breath and hurting. I felt like a cow. And I was actually ashamed to see how hard a time I had getting around. I have things to work on before I can consider taking another trip but at least I know what they are.

Trinity Choir at Salisbury Cathedral

Taking the trip, taking the time and expense to travel back for something as frivolous as a party, was important. And it wasn’t frivolous at all to be there. Thank you, Carrie and Jon, for the invitation. Thank you, so many choir friends, for connecting and for sharing a few things that you remembered that shone crystal clear once you spoke of them. You matter. You all matter. What we did then mattered, and how we are connected now does, too.

Feeling the Restriction

I had my second saline fill almost a month ago and am finding it much harder than I’d anticipated after fill #1.   There definitely is restriction and I find that I’m PB’ing almost every day, so I’m watching food very carefully.  I think the problem today was eating too soon after having taken a pill (which is hard by itself).  Every day it seems that something goes wrong, but I really don’t know why I couldn’t keep down yogurt.  I mean, how can you gag on yogurt?

So I was anxious going to Boston this weekend, since it meant eating out and being away from normal routines.   I stocked up with some NuGo Chocolate Peanut Butter bars for the train rides (it’s a 2 1/2 hr train ride from New Haven to Boston’s Back Bay station, only 2 blocks from my hotel; no way was I going to drive).   I also brought a water bottle I refilled often, and a blender bottle with individual packets of protein powder.   I rounded out my meals with Greek yogurt parfaits from Starbucks, which was right in the hotel.  I’d hoped to be able to have a crab cake appetizer at Legal Seafood, but given the state of my tummy, the yogurt and protein worked out better.  Plus they were lots cheaper.

But being in Boston was wonderful.  I’ve only been back once since moving away in 2007 and it was great to see old stomping grounds and do a little shopping (zilch at Filene’s Basement, which doesn’t have many fluffy lady sizes at all but scored a pair of on-sale womens petite pants at Talbots that fit perfectly).  Didn’t really feel like spending much time in the mall, though I walked around for exercise, but I finished my Friday getting a hot stone massage at the spa, which was awesome.

Saturday was Family History Day, co-sponsored by Ancestry.com and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  They had hoped to get 350 people and ended up getting another meeting room and topping out at 731 people, the max that the fire code would allow in the spaces.  It was a totally awesome event with 6 different classes (2 offered twice) on topics on immigration and naturalization, organizing materials, getting the most from your ancestry.com subscriptions, Family Tree Maker software, and resources available through NEHGS.

They also brought in professional equipment for free scanning of documents onto individual flash drives as well as offering free individual consultations with professional genealogists.  I took advantage of both – they were great opportunities and were booked up through the day.   I’ve been playing around online with new eyes and am starting to figure out how to better track what information I have and what steps to take next.   The event was so worth it on many levels.

Coming Home

Blowing noseI can breathe easily right now for the first time in 10 days, as I sit in my chair surrounded by a small pile of used tissues and cough drop wrappers.  I haven’t been feeling great for the last few weeks and have been self-dosing with Sudafed, Flonase, Mucinex, and the icky Neti-pot, not to mention Tylenol, but they didn’t do the trick.

Having had a history of sinus infections and two sinus surgeries, I knew it was time to get help (ie. drugs) and finally went to Urgent Care on Thursday to tell them I had a sinus infection and needed antibiotics.  That took about 20 minutes; waiting for the meds took another hour.

But it takes more than two days to actually feel better and yesterday didn’t help.  I went up to Boston with some colleagues for a regional meeting and it was fun, but it also meant waking up at 4:30am to wake up and then drive 3 hours up and back for a 6 hour meeting.  I probably would have gotten more out of it if I hadn’t been coughing and blowing my nose most of the time.  Oops. So today I just slept until I woke up and took things easy.  Tomorrow will be the same.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve been back to Boston since moving here sixteen months ago.  Driving through Newton we saw the gorgeous “painted ladies”, those old Victorian homes with the intricate gingerbread trimming, sitting surrounded by trees in reds and golds.  Comm Ave had changed, too, with more trees and greenery down by BU, something that was in the works when I left.  And the law school had changed as well, in some small ways (paint, public area art choices) and renovated library space. I got to see all but one of my former staff members, but only for a few minutes while on a break from the meeting, and got lots of big hugs.

It was very weird to be back.  I took my colleagues on a tour and kept saying “our” and “we” when referring to my old department, which I didn’t even notice doing.  Seventeen years is a long time to be in a place, though, and it was understandable.

But it wasn’t home.  Boston and BUSL weren’t home anymore.  The amount of traffic made me claustrophobic and I was relieved to finally get on the Pike and head west, even though we still had Friday traffic all the way.  I was glad to get back to my smaller world here, to my spacious apartment and waiting kitty, to open spaces and smaller roads and a different pace.

Life is good.  When the antibiotics kick in, it will be even better.

Overeating Member of Red Sox Nation

Red Sox LogoRight now I wish I was back in Boston. Back in the heart of Red Sox Nation, to celebrate with a whole city and state full of excited happy people, dancing in the streets over last night’s World Series win.

Instead, I’m here in Connecticut. There are Red Sox people here, too, of course, but we’re dangerously close to Yankee territory and we’re definitely outnumbered. Larry Lucchino said three years ago that we were the point of the sword deep into Yankee territory – but we were still part of Red Sox Nation. Last night was a late night and when the game was over, everyone was too excited and happy to sleep. That’s not a good plan when we have a whole work week ahead.

I’m trying not to think about all the food I’ve consumed in the last three days. Everything not nailed down that had sugar and fat managed to find their way into my mouth – cookies, Halloween candy, ice cream. I didn’t journal, I didn’t drink my water (well, some but not all), I didn’t get enough veggies or fruit. I was totally out of control.

It didn’t help and probably was exacerbated by the fact that I was home doing as little as possible. I felt totally drained and mindless, without energy for doing much of anything. Those days don’t come often but when they do, I just need to recharge. Usually I can do it without stuffing my face the whole day. I’m not really sure why this time it was bad, perhaps because I’d forced myself not to snack while my parents were here and it blew out in bad ways.

I know that I’ll be up at the scale on Wednesday and I really don’t care. Actions have consequences and when I eat more of the things outside the program, I gain weight. That’s actually a cautionary truth, a hard reality that I see with my eyes as much as I feel it in the tightness of my pants.

Tomorrow is Tuesday and I’m going to water aerobics after playing hooky for two weeks. I need the workout and hope the water isn’t freezing. My new car heating pad is here and I’ll give it a whirl out in the parking lot before class.