Very few of my friends know this, but my first choice for a college education wasn’t even in California. I don’t remember when or how I first discovered Boston’s Emerson College, but knowing that it had both a theatre and a journalism department made me think it was perfect for me. Another little-known tidbit from the past: I was torn between writing and acting before I realized that I was much better at one than the other.
My plans were thwarted when my mother informed me she had no intention of allowing me go back east for school. It wasn’t a question of money – she did, after all, eventually spring for a Stanford education, an outcome for which I deserve no sympathy. She suspected that, just as she and my father had come out to California and loved it, I would go back to Boston and fall in love with its history, seasons, architecture, and pick a reason.
And she was right.
Monica and I spent last week in Boston, site of this year’s American College of Physicians Conference. Before the conference began, we rode the T, wandered through Harvard Yard, shopped at Lord & Taylor, ate lobster and Boston cream pie – all the usual touristy things. As Californians, we also took long, luxuriant showers – something we can’t do at home. And while Monica was stuck in the convention center, learning, I went out and rode the T again. Yes, I was having lunch with clients, but I was also thinking about how much I loved that town.
Would I have loved it so much this past winter, which apparently only ended just last week? One colleague told me that he still had snow in his backyard. I don’t know. I do know that the biggest problem I have with snow is driving in it, and with a transportation system like the T, who needs a car? I love descending underground, buying a day pass, and flitting from green line to red line to silver line like a subterranean butterfly. I love the old brick buildings with the promenades down the middle of the street. I love the cobblestone streets. I love lobster.
It would have been better, perhaps, for me to be away from my family, to have established myself sooner – to have actually not acquiesced to my mother’s wishes because though they might have been what was right for her, it might not have been right for me. I would have probably ended up in the computer publishing industry, just as I did in the west. That might have turned out the same. But my friends, my memories, my wife, my life – all that would have been different. Perhaps not better, but certainly different.
None of that happened, of course, and I never will know a life of discovering Boston as a college student. But I wonder about the guy who would have lived that life and wish I could sit down with him for a long chat.