Summer at 18

Updated: Oct 6, 2018

When I was in high school, my best friend Dan lived 1,000 miles away in New Jersey. The year we graduated, we decided to take a "senior trip". The plan was for me to fly out there, spend a day at the Jersey Shore, and then get in his car and have an epic two week camping trip around New England. However, as so often happens with well made plans, they were thwarted somewhat last minute when he somehow (it's been over 11 years and I still don't understand) flipped his car going 20 mph.

As I already had my plane tickets, and we wanted to hang out anyways, of course I still went. But it was with a bit of a "what on earth are we going to do in New Jersey without a car for two weeks?" mentality. Happily, his parents were very kind and were willing to drive us to the beach, or to a bus station in order to go into New York. They were also willing to drive us to the Amtrak station in Trenton. I had family in New Hampshire who had taken pity on our circumstances and had invited us to stay with them for a few days over a weekend, so that they could take us around the area. So we got ourselves train tickets and eight hours later we were standing in the Boston sun.

My uncle, who worked (still works) in Boston despite living a nearly three hour commute away was waiting to pick us up. This was a Saturday, so it was extra kind of him to have come back down to get us. Big shout out to Uncle Steve that day (and all days, really!).

The following Tuesday, we awoke at 5am in order to accompany him on his commute. I slept most of the way in, only waking up when we had to avoid an accident by diving into a ditch. And then calmly driving right back onto the road as if nothing had happened, because that's the East Coast for ya, I guess?

After Steve dropped us off, we took a bus closer into the center of town. As this was before smart phones took over our lives, there were many newspapers splayed out in front of people. The headline was a startle for me: my hometown basketball hero, Kevin Garnett, had been traded to the Boston Celtics. Men were talking to one another about how excited they were, while I sat there silently fuming.

Once we got off the bus, we beelined for Dunkin' Donuts. I don't like donuts that much, but I figured "when in Boston." More importantly, I needed coffee. Our purchases in hand, we headed off to Boston Common, the main city park. We ate and drank under a tree, and then meandered off to explore the city.

We passed two old cemeteries, with graves from the 17th and 18th century. Coming from Minnesota, this blew my mind. However, I could not, just absolutely could not stay awake. I normally suffer from insomnia, I have always been a terrible sleeper. But this morning it was the opposite, I was literally falling asleep while we were walking. I felt bad for seemingly wasting our one day in Boston, but after nearly walking right out into traffic because I was so out of it, we stopped at a picnic table. I put my head in my arms, and the next thing I knew it was 2.5 hours later. Poor Dan was sitting there bored out of his mind. The sun had also come out, which had resulted in one hell of a sunburn (and in one hell of a pattern, considering half of my arms had been covered by my head).

The upside to the situation was that I felt fine after this, so we were finally able to really start out day. First we needed lunch though, and we found a pizza parlor. We took our medium sausage pizza to a nearby park, and happily munched away.

Nearby were three construction workers, who all had the thickest Boston accents. And they were all talking about how much they loved their mothers, which even after all this time I can still hear and still feel the warm glow I had while eavesdropping.

They soon went back to their work site, which was just right across the street from where we had all been sitting. While watching them walk away, I noticed a nearby tree that had a trunk that looked like military camouflage. I pointed this out to Dan, who told me it just looked like a tree trunk. Guess we know which of the two of us has the creative mind, eh? (It is absolutely him to be fair, this moment aside).

Once pizza had been enjoyed and somewhat digested, we walked to the nearby Science Museum. This had been on our agenda not for the museum itself but for the attached planetarium. They did laser shows, and that particular time there was a Beatles show. As anyone who has looked at the Liverpool section of my blog will know that I am a massive Beatles fan, and god bless Dan for having known to check the Planetarium's show schedule. It was a fun experience, definitely worth the $10 admission.

After the show, we left the dark, air-conditioned planetarium for the Massachusetts sun. At this point, it was nearly time to meet my uncle to head back to New Hampshire. The day had not exactly gone how we had planned, but it was still a fun day.

The moment of the day that we still talk about happened on the walk back to meet Steve. We passed a Boston Police Department office with this sign on its door. We both actually stopped in our tracks to stare, and I snapped a picture. As this was 2007, before the world began to devolve into the nightmare we are currently in, this wasn't exactly something we expected. Had we seen it on a police station today, who knows what our reaction would be.