We arrived just before lunch on the 23rd and spent the afternoon walking around town taking photos. There was still a little snow on the ground. I got to see the Boston Legal building and J got to go to The Cheesecake Factory. (We had agreed to only eat one meal at a chain restaurant during the trip, and that was her choice - of course later we had to go to Qdoba for lunch in a freakin blizzard, but that was extenuating circumstances. And i'm getting ahead of myself.) We ended the walk through the city at a touristy outdoor mall with one of the biggest Christmas trees i've ever seen. Night had fallen and all the lights were beautiful. Later we went out for some kick-ass sushi - it really makes a difference when you eat close to the sea.
On the 24th J was feeling her shopping groove so we hit the malls and visited some of the stores we don't get in Canada. We bought each other Christmas gifts, which for me was books and comics, luxuries i hardly treat myself to these days - yay! Our attempt to have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner got fucked in the ass when the hostess at the restaurant inexplicably directed us to the basement bar instead of the main seating. We had dressed up and everything. But whatever, it was so hard to find anything open we just sucked it up and ate there anyway - our waitress was nice enough. She did, however, screw up our order and gave J the wrong steak. A bunch of teenage douche bags sat right next to us for most of dinner too. By now J and i are used to having our every attempt at romance fail - it's become a running joke. I think if we actually managed a real romantic night out one day it'd just be weird. Our relationship isn't like that.
Christmas itself was okay. I woke up really sad and although exchanging gifts in bed was nice, i couldn't shake the funk. One of J's top things to do in Boston was visit Harvard University, so we went up to the campus expecting to be the only ones there. Apparently every other tourist in town had the same idea. It was nice enough looking at all the old buildings, but i gotta say it's not really a particularly picturesque or interesting school. Perhaps it was just my mood. That didn't improve when we went to the Jewish part of town on the advice of my (Jewish) uncle who said everything would be open. Nothing was open. Nothing except a Chinese restaurant, where we ate lots of deep-fried made-for-white-people dishes. It kinda felt like being back up where J's parents live, which killed a bit of the vacation vibe. We did get fondue for dinner, though, which was pretty awesome and made up for the less-than-romantic date of the night before.
One of the things i thought would be cool to do since we were only an hour away was take the train to Providence. We did that Sunday morning, not expecting the forecast storm to be quite so massive. As we went south the snow got worse and worse till we arrived in Rhode Island in the middle of a blizzard. The streets were deserted and downtown was locked down like a hurricane was coming. I was adamant we'd find something open so we walked in the direction of Brown University where i'd read there was a street with some restaurants and nice stores. The campus was pristine - none of the tourists of Harvard and completely snow-blanketed. It was as beautiful as the rest of the city. I really think it's the prettiest city i've ever visited in the US. Perhaps i'm just saying that because of the snow. J was getting pretty cranky because it was cold and wet and windy and we hadn't eaten. Eventually we found a local burger joint and after eating decided to go back to Boston. I really wanted to stay and explore more, but in retrospect we probably made the right decision. By the time we got back to Boston the storm had come down in earnest and pretty much every store in town was closed. We were extremely lucky to find a Malaysian (!) restaurant open, so we enjoyed lychee smoothies and rendang while watching plows go by out the window.
Monday was the day we were supposed to leave, but after having watched the storm coverage the night before we weren't optimistic. All the New York area airports were closed and Boston had only let a handful of flights out. By lunch time we got a call that our flight had been cancelled and we'd only get out on Wednesday. Fortunately we had been careful with our cash and could actually afford to stay another two nights at the hotel. Sleeping at the airport would have been miserable. As it was just trying to get around town on Monday was miserable - the snow had slowed but the wind was gusting gale-force and it was bitterly cold. Once again all the restaurants closed early so we picked up some bread and cheese and vegetables from a supermarket to picnic in our hotel room.
Tuesday everything cleared up and we got to go see J's number one Boston drawcard - Fenway Park. It's the oldest MLB ballpark in America and the Red Sox is her team. The tour was pretty interesting - probably more interesting if you know something about baseball - and was a nice way to cap off our stay. We took it easy for the rest of the day and ordered in Thai. They had vegetable tempura with satay sauce. Best fusion idea ever.
And then came Wednesday the 29th, our last day. I was quiet all morning and once we got on the plane i collapsed in tears. J fell asleep and didn't notice till halfway through the flight. I've cried every time i've left America, bus or plane. Especially plane. It feels so final. I know it sounds weird, pathetic, but every time it's like i'm being torn away from my home. I live these magical moments there where everything just feels right, i get the people, i like the culture, things just seem to fit the way they're supposed to, and then it's gone. I know it doesn't make sense, i don't have any cultural connection, but somehow it feels more "home" than anywhere else to me. Having to leave just breaks me apart. I always wish things could be different somehow, i dream. That's one of the dreams that keeps me alive.
We never visited Little Italy, in Boston or Providence. We also skipped Salem and Cape Cod since they're mostly shut down in winter. I figure that leaves us something for next time. I would love to spend more time in Providence, i really didn't expect the place to be so nice. But then i still have the rest of my north-east list too, not least New York freakin City. I guess if i can't live in the US at least i can visit, especially living so close now. Maybe i can afford to go each year. It's weird sharing that with someone else... this is one of those personal dreams. Often i just want to drive away and disappear, get an under the table job and wait for amnesty. Having someone else there checks that urge. Sometimes i wonder where the hell i would've ended up if i had no one.