‘Just add the difference…’

A fellow parent at my children’s school was telling me about her landlord, an older Italian woman, when she lived in Boston’s North End about twenty years ago.

“So she invited me in for lemonade one day and we had a nice chat. And then she said, ‘You know, I realize you’re just getting started in your career, and so I’m sorry about this but I’m afraid I’m going to have to raise the rent.’ So I thought for a minute and remembered the elderly couple below me and my roommate. They were on a fixed income and this would be really tough on them. I asked my landlord about this. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I’ve been worried about them, but I don’t know what else I can do.’ This man who lived below me was a fixture in our community; everyone knew him. He would even save my parking place by sitting in a chair out front, and nobody ever bothered him. He’d been very kind, you know? So I said to my landlord, ‘Why don’t you just add the difference in their rent to our new rent. We can cover it. We’ll just drink less beer.’”

Yankee times

Now with 11 days remaining until I start the new job in NYC, I have started a list of “Things I will remember about New England”:

1. Practicing koine Greek vocabulary for class while sitting on Singing Beach in Manchester, with Carter as an infant in his car seat under a multi-colored umbrella.

2. Apple picking with Carter and Bennett at Honeypot Hill Orchards in Stow, where they also sell pumpkins and cider donuts, and where I discovered Empire 090607a-kartha.jpgapples.

3. Buying groceries from Crosby’s in Manchester, where each Friday afternoon there is a harpist playing, whose harp amazingly stays in tune though there’s a draft from the refrigerated area of the produce section.

4. Watching a red-tailed hawk go after a seagull on an open field.  Perhaps you think this a bit of morbid fascination, but for a city kid, this was a pretty awesome sight.

5. Eating fried clams at Woodman’s.

6. Surfing at Good Harbor Beach with Scott.

7. Having a 6-minute commute from our side of town to work over at the seminary, 8 minutes if the train comes through as I cross Route 1-A.

8. Watching Fourth of July fireworks with the boys and Karen out in Pepperell and being in a crowd that feels more like an entire town rather than an angry mob.

9. Going to Fenway Park.

10.  Driving to Cambridge one winter night to attend my cousin Rob’s film opening at Harvard and noticing the snow on the wrought iron streetlamps that looked like cake icing.  Sensing the history of the place. Loving Boston for being Boston, not a miniature New York.

11.  Going on a family hike in Bradley Palmer State Park and having to put Teak on my shoulders for the way back to the car.  Needing a back/shoulder rub later from Karen, even though I hate back rubs.

12.  Having two children born at Beverly Hospital.

13. Watching the twin towers fall on TV on September 11, 2001, and feeling a million miles away from home, and having my heart break.

14. Eating ice cream at Captain Dusty’s and watching the ducks in the harbor in downtown Manchester.

15. Owning our first home.

16. Cutting the grass.

17. Assembling a gas grill and feeling like a suburbanite.

18. Being surprised at how much love I feel toward the Christ Church family and wondering how any church in the future can be as dear to us.

19. Enjoying each season in New England to the fullest.

20. Leaving one season of our lives together to enter another season, together.

photo:  a kartha

Philip’s legacy

I don’t want a Porsche.

Really, I don’t.

I saw one crossing in front of me as I took a turn over the north Beverly railroad tracks – that cumbersome intersection of Dodge Row and Route 1-A North where, if you hit it wrong, you can sit for 4 ½ minutes (I’ve timed it) waiting for the red-and-white wooden crossing guards to lift even though the southbound train is not even in the station and you are sitting south of the station, like it’s nowhere near the station and then you sit while it sits and you sit and you sit…and you can’t even sing along to that awesome Dierks Bentley song on the radio because the person next to you is figuring out what to do with their time, too, and you would feel like a fool singing like Dierks and trying to hit those high notes and your neck screaming veins popping out while your driver-neighbor is basically seeing you have a seizure in silence behind two panes of tempered glass – those railroad tracks… and I saw this maroon Porsche with a black whale’s tail and, in fact, it did look like a large mammal, albeit a really fast large mammal. And I thought: I am pleased as punch with my silver Toyota Corolla that gets like 200 miles to the gallon – city – and that fits my 5’9” frame just fine, thank you. Continue reading