…Where No One Really Knows Your Name

I miss Boston. Not the ridiculous cost of living or the rats. Not my old apartment (but kinda my old apartment), but definitely the proximity of my old apartment to my favorite bookstore and the literary-focused life I led for the few years I was there. But most of all, I miss the anonymity of big-city living. I really miss being able to take a day and the T from location to favorite location, relatively certain that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the people I knew there; on the contrary, I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people in Boston. But there is freedom in anonymity.

Boston Public Gardens

During the summer of 2012, I made it a point to walk through the Boston Public Garden every single day.

This is, in part, why I don’t regularly attend church. A few times a year I decide that I’d like to go to a service, and I do so on my own. But as soon as we’re prompted to greet those around us, I’m reminded of one of the reasons I stay home on Sunday mornings and start considering the best route to slip out undetected once the service is over.

I’d like to go through life a little more like this–slipping in and out of crowds undetected. I guess I want an invisibility cloak. Is that too much to ask?

Except, it’s not that I want to be invisible. I want to be part of the world around me. I want to smile at strangers and engage in other little pleasantries. I want to give and receive a nod of camaraderie from fellow fans also dressed in Bucks gear. One of my favorite parts of running is greeting fellow runners with a cheery “Good morning!” while continuing on my way. It seems like one of the few times you can do something like that (Hi! no bye, no nothing else) without seeming rude.

More of this is what I say. Which is funny when you consider how I choose to teach and coach in the community I live in. And even funnier when you consider I continue to make decisions like this. For me, it sometimes feels like it’s funny in one of those not-really-all-that-funny kinds of ways.

Like when I make a quick run to the grocery store in my shorts and t-shirt combo that sometimes doubles as my pajamas (so, my pajamas). Just needing a few things–milk, bread, chocolate, beer–I quickly fill a small basket and make my way to the checkout only to be greeted by half of the employable population of the school. It always seems like they are shocked to suddenly be in the midst of a live, real-time National Geographic special. Cue the narrator who whispers as if he might actually bother the animals on film from his studio booth: The teacher, out of her natural habitat of the classroom, approaches with a smile that had only been prompted before by books and words… What could she be up to?

I’ve actually had to answer the question, “What are you doing here?” and was somehow able to avoid responding with, “Uh, I’m human. I also need to eat to live,” or, worse, “I’m a high school teacher and a stepmom. I need a beer. And chocolate. And I picked up the rest to make you think this wasn’t just a beer and chocolate run.”

It’s times like those that I miss Boston.

But I do love Wisconsin. I love my family and my friends and our home. And I find little escapes to give me the sense of freedom that life in Boston did. I escape into a book, I go for a hike, I tuck myself into a corner booth at Panera and read and write for hours on end. Because you can take a girl outta Boston, but you can’t take the quest for freedom outta this girl.

P.S. If you haven’t sung the title of this post to the tune of the Cheers theme song, I have failed. Or you have. I hope not.

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