Beacon Hill: Bright-eyed and eager to start my new life, I move into the crappiest apartment in the poshest section of downtown Boston days before September 11th makes me wonder why I’ve come somewhere where I know three people, including my roommate. Things look up when I start my writing and editing classes at grad school and manage also to land a job. I am naively excited that it pays about $25K a year, which says more about my previous jobs than it does about the new one. My roommate’s girlfriend moves in with us and my rent drops by $300 a month. I am excited until I remember that I’m still overpaying to live in a lightless apartment where a mouse gnaws through the clothes in my laundry basket and the entire bank of kitchen cabinets falls off the wall one day because it’s only attached by glue, staples, and three 3-inch screws. My landlord kindly reattaches them the exact same way (but hey, he drills new holes!). Since I’m moving out a month later at that point, I just leave my dishes stacked up all over the living room.
Most memorable Beacon Hill moment: It’s a toss-up between watching a rat saunter down my street and my landlord telling me about his colonoscopy, thus reminding me of the importance of keeping some information to yourself.
The North End: Giddy with my apartment-hunting success, I move into the historic Italian neighborhood where, in the ’20s and ’30s, my grandmother’s family owned a drugstore on Hanover Street. My landlady is a truly awesome woman who warns us not to lick the ant traps she’s thoughtfully placed around the kitchen for us to eradicate the sugar ants. While moving in, my new roommate and my friend from kung fu get into an epic battle that ends in them never speaking again, and we almost drop my bed down four flights of stairs. We go to all of the saints’ festivals in the summer and eat way too much fresh pasta and bread. As a bonus, it turns out the underboss of the Patriarca crime family owns the cheese shop down the street from my apartment. And isn’t forging Mafia connections what living in the North End’s really all about? (Obviously, I have no Mafia connections.)
Most memorable North End moment: Walking to work admiring the skyline every morning makes me truly appreciate being a city girl.
Ball Square: I move in with the boyfriend and sadly out of Boston proper. But Somerville’s still the city, right? Right? There’s lots of drinking, brunching, and general hanging out at all the awesome restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in Ball, Davis, and Porter Squares. We do adult things like have tiny dinner parties that fit in our tiny kitchen. We deal with a landlord who removes our toilet one weekend when we’re in New York, to fix a leak that can’t actually be fixed for a couple days. He tells us to just use our neighbor’s toilet in the meantime, and when we can’t hold it in any longer, we do. It’s predictably awkward. We get engaged, get married, I quit my job and start my own business, thus ensuring a future of overworked and stressed-out nights – but at least I get to choose my own projects, right? Right?
Most memorable Ball Square moment: Every little moment that forces me to admit I’m an adult, from beginning our house hunt to filing quarterly taxes for my business. Oh, and maybe marriage should be on the list.
Watertown: I move a little further out of the city and onto a bus line instead of the T (what a travesty!). I console myself by reasoning it’s the only way to afford real estate and a kid at the same time. We deal with renovations and shady contractors, temper tantrums and daycare, and watch a neighbor’s house get raided by the FBI, the DEA, and the police late one night. Sidenote: I’m glad I’ve taken up martial arts again. My son plays outside all summer with the kids next door, and I know I’m definitely home. But there are still some other areas of greater Boston I’d like to check out . . .