Reflections on 3 Years of South End Living

May 10, 2018
3 years of south end living

There’s an interesting pattern that I’ve noticed in my life: from the time I was 14 years old, I’ve never lived in the same place for more than 3 years. This is year 3 of living in Boston’s South End, the first and only neighborhood I’ve lived in since coming to Boston a few summers ago.

And, true to form, today is moving day.

While the timeframe is consistent with the other moves I’ve made in my life, the reason and feelings surrounding this move are much different. In the past, I’ve always been so glad to get away from the place I left behind. I was always ready to go and never look back.

But now, while I’m definitely excited about what’s ahead, I’m also sad about what we’ll no longer have to call ours. My feelings are much more mixed and conflicting this time around.

I absolutely love the South End. I love our neighbors. I love walking around the neighborhood and I love our little brownstone apartment on a street that looks like it could be a movie set.

I love the trees whose branches I look into when I look out our third-floor windows and I love that when I wake up in the morning, even though we’re in the middle of a big city, the only thing I hear is birdsong.

And I really love the life I’ve had here for the past few years.  Even though I spent all my life in Georgia before coming to New England, moving to Boston didn’t feel like a move away from home. It felt like finally coming home.

Before I moved here, I always hated where I lived. I always felt unsettled and I longed to travel anywhere that wasn’t where I currently was. I never felt like I belonged, and randomly, the thought, “I wish I could go home” would pop into my head — while I was sitting in my house.

I don’t really believe in much woo-woo stuff, but looking back, there must have been something that caused that. There must have been something that called me to find my place elsewhere. It took me 25 years and a life-altering event to listen to whatever inner voice was telling me home was really somewhere beyond the place I was actually born, but I finally tuned in.

I still don’t understand it, or know why, but that voice was right. I moved to Boston and I came home.

The intense need to constantly travel has subsided since I’ve lived here (although I still love exploring new places). When I do go away now, I’m always so ready to run onto the plane when it’s time to go back to Boston and I could almost cry with joy every time the wheels touch down on Logan’s runways.

Almost daily, I find myself walking along somewhere in Boston and what I’m looking at is so gorgeous or lovely that it doesn’t even seem real — the homes on a quiet street in the South End, the hidden neighborhood shops in the North End the tourists don’t know about, the pond in the garden with the Arlington Street church in the background and the Hancock building rising above all of it, the sunsets over the Charles, the dreamy twinkle of lights on Comm Ave at night, the patio of a restaurant on a summer afternoon that is absolutely perfect with a glass of wine in hand and a breeze rolling through…

Every day is a new opportunity to be struck with the thought, “oh my god, I get to live here. This incredible place is my home.” I love it dearly and I feel so grateful — and constantly amazed — that it’s true: I do live here.

And while making friends as an adult, especially in a city like Boston that really isn’t warm and fuzzy and welcoming, I’ve found my people. I’ve built a little tribe and I finally feel like I’m where I belong. Where I’m supposed to be.

The past 3 years have been both the most challenging and the most rewarding of my life. I have learned, grown, and changed for the better. I have become a better person for those around me — and for myself.

I’ve experienced some intense personal development and for the first time in my life, I like who I am. I am comfortable in my own skin. I feel like I am who I’m supposed to be, in that I’m doing things that allow me to reach my best potential. I’ve never been so happy and healthy as am I now.

I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had while living here. I’ve formed relationships with strong, intelligent, caring, and remarkable women who have restored my faith in other people, who I trust and love and feel able to be 100% myself around.

And the driving force behind my move to Boston is still a driving force for good in my life: my fiance, and soon-to-be husband, Eric. I struggle to find words that properly explain the depth of our connection and love. I don’t even know if I fully understand that connection; that is how strong and powerful that energy is.

It only took 24 hours together for me to know this was someone I would do anything for, without question.

The backdrop to all this and the last 3 great years that I have thoroughly enjoyed? This little brownstone apartment that sits on the streets of the South End, that I moved into 3 years ago sight-unseen.

Eric and I both took a leap, on this place an on each other, and that leap turned both our lives into something we could never have imagined, even back then when we tried to picture best-case scenarios of what our futures might look like.

It makes me smile to think back on us then and then to see all the amazing things that have happened since. And I know 3 years is not a long time at all, especially when the years seem to flow by faster and faster the older I get.

Even still, we tend to forget what life was like even just a few years ago. We’re constantly adjusting to a new normal as the years go on, especially if we improve our lives in some way. We forget what it was like when we had to struggle more, or how things were before we reached the level of success we enjoy now.

I want to hang on to that. I don’t want to forget the feeling I had when I walked into this apartment for the first time: I was in awe. I couldn’t believe someone like me had landed someplace like this. It didn’t feel real. It felt like a dream.

And maybe it won’t be hard to forget after all. Because sitting here today, on the verge of walking into another new place, I actually feel the same way. It feels dreamy. It feels surreal that this is my life. I feel gratitude beyond measure.

Both Eric and I have worked hard to get to where we are and enjoy what we have, I know. But we’re also incredibly lucky and fortunate. The universe has certainly worked in our favor, and while I’m prone to worrying and thinking about the worst, the thing that strikes me about today is this:

I’m sad to leave the South End but I’m looking back fondly and not with remorse or regret. I’m taking a moment to reflect on the years this place was our home, not to cling to it but to acknowledge it before turning with excitement and openness toward what’s next. While I’m usually an anxious person, I don’t feel uneasy today at all. I feel like the future is going to be even better when we get there. I feel strangely content and at peace with the fact that there are only more good years ahead of us to enjoy.

The thing that’s striking, or strange, about that is I’m usually so afraid when something good happens, because I’m scared I’ll lose it or it will stop or something bad is sure to follow. But today I just feel happy with no worries or fears — and I feel confident that happiness will keep flowing, that happiness is abundant and we’ll only continue to grow, improve, and become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

In a way I feel like I’m in the same place I was 3 years ago. I feel the same sense of awe when I step into our new home, the same sense of “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” I feel the same sense of possibility, the sense that we’re on the verge of really big things. I feel excited and joyous about the idea of how much more good stuff can happen in the years ahead.

I’m excited to enjoy and experience all that there is to experience in our new home, our new neighborhood, and our new chapter of our life in Boston.

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