Please excuse me while I take part in this beautiful Friday ritual of a single photo – no explanation – inspired by Amanda Blake Soule, whose blog SouleMama is one of my deep favorites.
Scene: On Saturday I went to the mall and I was overwhelmed.
Never a mall rat, I grew up in New Jersey in the radius of four sizable shopping malls and any number of bookstores, toy/hobby stores, tackle shops, garden centers, and bakeries. I know how to shop.
When I moved to Boston for college, my habits changed. They had to, the only indoor malls I knew were the Copley and the Prudential, and Copley was far too pricey for my college non-income. I started scouring sales in Downtown Crossing –an outdoor, cobblestone-lined district known for deep discounts at Filene’s Basement, for jewelry and diamond dealers, and, among my crowd of college-age women, for the sketchiness of male loiterers.
From Downtown Crossing I transferred my consumer dollars to the discount giants on Boylston Street and infrequent cheap-finds on Newbury Street; from Newbury to the thrift stores of Allston; from Allston to the independent gems in Jamaica Plain. The most significant change to my habits however wasn’t where I shopped but whether I shopped.
Enter, stage left: the clothing swap. Exit, stage right: browsing the retail offerings after work and on weekends, “Black Friday,” television ads, advertisements posing as magazines, blockbuster movies, and newspaper circulars. Stage rear: a single spotlight illuminates the Ikea catalog, which has essentially become a fantasy novel in my house.
Scene: My partner and I drive into the many-story parking garage of Legacy Place in Dedham, MA. Most of the spaces are taken, so we circle to the second level and I gaze out over the stores below, the cars below, the people below –the plastic, the paper, the hidden sewer and HVAC systems, the landscaping, the water flowing up into the many fixtures. Even though Legacy Place appeals to me because of its mix of mainstream and local chain favorites, I feel overwhelmed by the all-encompassing everything.
It’s just . . . so much stuff.
I asked: Are you cops on the path?
I said: Well, I just want to say thank you.
Officer behind the wheel: *big smile*
Officer in the passenger seat (marking in his notebook): Oh. You’re welcome.
Why the thank you? Back at the beginning of the summer, I was attacked by children on exactly that stretch of path along the South West Corridor. It was a terrible experience, being nearly knocked off my bike by two eggs. Screaming in fear because I couldn’t make out what was happening to me. Flipping my bike (luckily, I didn’t fall) in my haste to stop, stop, stop!
I chased those children. I wasn’t kidding. And they scattered like marbles, like mercury. I couldn’t even tell how many there were, and then they were gone. Leaving just me and my fear and shame and frustration and anger. Oh, and nearby, a couple of teenagers who watched the whole episode, seeming unaffected and also unwilling to rat out the children.
I called the police and waited half an hour for them to show. When they did finally, they didn’t seem to care. It even felt to me that they wanted to dissuade me from filing a report. What happened to me just wasn’t serious enough, the offenders were just kids, there was nothing the officers could do at the moment besides patrol the path and away, the Boston Police didn’t have jurisdiction over the path, the State Police would need to be called in for that.
I’ve put a lot of thought into what happened to me. Who the officers might be who looked at me from their car and decided I wasn’t hurt enough. Who those kids might be, whom, after the attack taunted me from a safe distance and then ran. To them, I’m just another angry woman on a bike. Just a target. But I’m not used to being a victim. I’m used to first not presenting like a victim, and second, fighting back using whatever means available.
At the same time, one of the values I live by is: first, do no harm. Another is to understand, look at as many sides of an issue as I’m aware of. And last, proceed with caution. Proceed with love.
So I take my opportunities whenever, however they arise. If I see cops on the bike path, working to keep me safe, to keep other cyclists safe, to keep those kids safe, I thank them.
This weekend, my partner, a good friend, her dog, and I hiked the Skyline Trail in the Middlesex Fells, a hidden gem of the Greater Boston area. I hadn’t heard of this park until just a few years ago, and have been just twice.
Sometimes the Fells revealed its level of use in sparkling patches of broken bottles and tell-tale signs of a campfire, but mostly this urban forest turned a friendly face towards us -clearly marked paths, large rocks to scramble up, plush carpets of moss and lichen, and more than a few fellow hikers accompanied by a wide assortment of dogs.
Our company of four enjoyed the fair notes of summer transitioning towards fall, picked our way around a number of downed trees (victims of August’s hurricane Irene), and proceeded to find ourselves on and off the trail at various points. Our three-hour hike turned into something like six.
Some complaints were heard, creaky knees and stubbed toes felt, slight thirst and hunger, tired dog tail swinging at the sight of a smile or worried look. I’d like to think we all took the misadventure of our adventure in stride. I’d like to feel we grew to know one another just a tad bit better.
Welcome. I’m glad you’ve come.
Whole Heart Local is meant to serve as my new(est) home on the web. A home I’ve been planning -however cerebral the process- all summer and one I’m excited to build, digital brick by brick. Here you will find musings, blunders, blubbering, sentences begun with prepositions (naughty!), silliness, lists, posts that are far too long, snapshots, wondering, wry asides, misspellings and other imperfections, severe lack of schedule, words strung together just for the heck of it, and more than perhaps you wanted to know about the various under-cultures of Boston and it’s snuggly environs.
Whole Heart Local, in it’s more practical application, is intended to continue the efforts of my other blog attempt, Librarytour. (Note the term “attempt.) So, see, there will be a sort of split: part Librarytour, part Boston Moments. And then everything else. A three-way split (I hear those are rare.)
Thanks for dropping by. It’s lovely to be here.