When you're from Pittsburgh you either go East or West, and I went East, to Boston, and it became my centroid.
At first I lived in a tiny studio on tulip-poplar-lined street in Kenmore Square, and failed out of B.U.'s science writing program because my boyfriend cheated on me, it seems like a stupid reason now, what did I expect?
I expected and hoped for experiences in a sophisticated walking city like Boston. Cuban lovers. The swing dance revival. Latte art. Art openings. Bizet's "Cahmen" on the Cohmon, as "Mumbles" Menino announced it while we picniced on things from Formaggio Kitchen.
I spent years in Somerville, now called the US's hippest city, but I was there before they put a bird on it, taking the subway downtown, to work, at the New England Aquarium where I told school kids to use their "one touching finger" to touch the sea cucumber I held in my hands while I talked about how it could spill its guts, literally, to avoid predation.
I was born in Pittsburgh, and that's my girlhood: middle class, Western Pennsylvania, but I became a woman, as they say, in Boston. And I love my centroid.
Not for the weather, god no, not for the byzantine parking rites, but for the overheard conversations at the many parks in multiple languages, in the line at Clear Flour Bakery, you can talk about dark matter. It's an egghead paradise, with an unexpectedly muscular heart, it's like a charmingly repressed, really smart hot European firefighter.
I called my family from Fenway Park, a place I could walk to, from our apartment in Cambridge, to tell them I was pregnant with my first child and criss-crossed the marathon finish line many times to return the series of What To Expect books to the library.