Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boston, A New Perspective

Boston and Washington, DC are both about 3 and a half hours driving distance from Manhattan. Both have therefore become the easy getaway whenever there is a long weekend or when an out-of-town guest comes to visit. I'd already had my Washington DC overload a few years ago when I'd drive south almost every other month. Similarly, with a friend half-based in Boston, the New England city has become as familiar to me lately as the back of my hand.

So when Dennis was making plans for his NYC visit for the Holy Week and asked where else we could spend a few days, my choices for him were the usual: Washington DC or Boston. He asked me which of the two was more fun and definitely, Boston. And so against all the superstitions we grew up with about traveling on Good Friday, we headed early in the day north of the I-95 and was in New England a little after lunch.

Dennis is fun to be with. H is not that kind of travel companion who is gungho about everything. He took on the role of the Boston tourist and suddenly, I was seeing the city in a different perspective.

He was ready for the city hike that he has associated with me by aearing more sensible shoes than he usually would. We checked into our lovely hotel along the Historic Trail, dropped our packpacks and then headed off to enjoy the city through our camera lens. He pretty much left to pick out our itinerary but he efficiently became my living compass (since pretty much like my gay-dar, my internal compass is also a bit screwed up). Off we trekked off to nearby Faneuil Hall where I had my favorite lobster roll which I have been craving for since we have decided on the Boston trip. Since he has allergies to anything shellfish, Dennis picked out a salmon kebob that was just heavenly.

From there we walked around, literally following the red line on the sidewalk to cover as much of the old town as possible, snapping away photographs of cemeteries, churches, state houses and buildings with breathtaking architecture.

Boston is the oldest city in the United States. It has such rich history which I have put together in my previous trips and transfering the information to a friend, I was fascinated about how much I knew about the largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dennis, of course knew how to twist the situation to make it even more interesting. Remembering fairly well how much of a fraidy cat I am, he highlights the fact that we were staying in the oldest hotel in the United States. Though it is currently going through renovations, the fact that it sits across an old church and the first cemetery in the city, he spins a story that through some wars, the hotel might have become a temporary hospital to house the wounded. Thus, he notes, that there might have been many people have died within its walls. And then drew up images of ghosts running down the hotel corridors at night... I rolled my eyes but of course was freaked out.

By the time night time have set, we had pretty much walked around and photographed many of Boston's must-sees. We of course needed to experience the true character of Boston and nothing fulfills that more than sitting in one of the many Irish bars that dot the city. We did some bar hopping before heading back to the hotel to call it a day.

In previous trips as we drove along the river and across to get to Cambridge where my friend has a house, I have always wanted to stop and snap away pictures of college crews rowing down Charles River. I was charmed by the beauty of canoes, kayaks, boats and sculls that were its usual attractions. So now braving the early morning chill, I sneaked out, jumped into a cab and found myself standing on the esplanade and staring at an empty waterway. What the heck???

The winds, which had been relentless since the day was the only companion I had on the Charles River shores. And some brave joggers who must have been wondering what I was doing there with my camera, as was I. I still took more pictures of the view - the Alewife-bound T ripped through the silence and rolled across the Longfellow Bridge. The MIT towered in the northwest and some ducks paddled through the icy waters aong the shore.

On our way back to New York while we exchanged cameras and viewed each others pictures, we looked toward the direction of the Charles River and saw it once more dotted with college crews rowing kayaks and sculls in practice. I rolled my eyes and Dennis laughed. Apparently, I was brave enough to go out in the cold to go to the river but the college boys waited for the sun to at least lift the mercury a bit.

Still, I enjoyed Boston like I have never before. And saw it in another perspective.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I Got Sunshine

It rained hard overnight and for the first time I actually HEARD rain pouring outside of my window. The wind howled too - in a scary familiar way, like how I used to remember Signal number 5 typhoons in Manila. But I was in the safety of my apartment, tucked warmly beneath my down blanket and surrounded by puffy almost cloud-like pillows.

This morning at 6AM, I got up and walked to the computer and typed an email to my boss informing her that I wasn't coming to work. I was taking a personal day off. HA! You heard that right - a personal day off. With 2.5 sick days still unused and which I am bound to lose at the end of the month I realized I had the luxury to take a day off and it would be today. Not apt to lie about being sick either, a personal day off seemed most acceptable.

And so what is a personal day? Usually what we call a day off from work to attend to urgent personal matters. Today it will be defined as when I can type an entry to my blog at 830AM, climb back to bed and read my book 'eat pray love' and maybe later, when the skies clear - have a bit of walk at the park.

It may be grey outside and the humidity will wreck havoc on my hair if I step out now. I will not be troubled. Today is a day when I will do what I want when I feel like it. And if all I want to do today is just curl in bed with a book and hot chocolate that's not so bad either. And the best thing is, I don't have to pretend to be recovering from being sick tomorrow when I come back to work. Not like how some people do it. :-)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Life of Travel

Page by page, I cannot help but feel envious of the life Elizabeth Gilbert is living in her bestselling book, "eat pray love". Not so much, of course the collapse of a marriage or the fleeting relationships after. That drama I have found on my own to live time and again and the drama never ceases to amuse me regardless how I try to avoid them.

Elizabeth Gilbert then decides to pack her things and to live away for a year - four months each in Italy, in India and in Bali, Indonesia. Her life in Rome - that could as well be my life. Studying a new language, meeting new people and bring introduced to a new life. A chance to reinvent myself - again, as I'd like to think that I did leave behind the old me in Manila and has developed myself into a person - more tolerant in such a way that only a Manhattanite can be, more relaxed, more broad-minded.

Back to a life in Rome - I'd love to eat gelato everyday at 1030AM, be lost in the liquid eyes of a stranger who speaks in such a romantic language I do not understand, be dined and wined and be wooed. In a city that is dotted with many fountains I'd love to be like Elizabeth and have a favorite fountain or two. I'd love to read Italian newspapers even if it takes me a day to translate one because afterall, there is no reason to rush. I'd love to drive along the Amalfi coast on a convertible with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I'd love to wake up and not give a damn about what suit to wear to work or have to meet deadlines. I'd love to have the freedom not to deal with people I'd really not deal with. I'd love to have a life that I own. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, I have succeeded in knowing that I do not want to live how everyone else lives their lives. Thankfully there is that freedom of an option.

This afternoon in a phone call the Italian we exchanged plans for the year. I had planned to see him in Ukraine when he got an assignment there in December 2007. He called me while I was in Manila and invited me for a visit. I have researched like an insane woman for flights, places to see and things to do. I learned about the museums and the nightclubs on the beach and imagined a nightlife of parties that stretches until the sunrise. I targeted a visit in the spring but typical of plans with the Italian, nothing is ever final. In January, he was sent back to Italy by his administration, from where he was calling me from tonight.

If he doesn't get another assignment abroad, he told me he planned to take 6 months off starting in October and then to travel the world. I told him if he was still in Italy in the spring then I might reconsider meeting up with him either in Rome or in Spain where our friend Jorge has a standing invitation to me for a visit. Ibiza, he spoke thoughtfully and I think we had the same thoughts of beach and paradise. And if not in Europe, he promised we will see each other in New York this year.

If I had a chance, I'd take a leave off life for year myself and just go away. Go somewhere and just rediscover life in another space, another time, live life like I am starting all over again. If I had a chance, I'd live the pages of Ms. Gilbert's adventure word per word.

This year hopes to have a chance for travel. A good year is promised while a life of a dream still remains.