City Living

It’s almost mid-June. Boston has finally emerged from one of its worst winters on record (which of course is the year I moved back up North). Schools are almost out for the summer.

And as the days get warmer, the Families in Global Transition Conference becomes more and more of a distant memory. It’s been a privilege to follow the reflections of some of the attendees and presenters from the conference, and as a Parfitt Pascoe Writing Scholar, I’ve been able to relive some of my favorite sessions as I wrote articles about them (stay tuned for future publications). But the more time ticks on, the more removed the experience feels.

Until today, when I realized that the weekend will probably always be a part of me. Although I’ll never be surrounded by that same group of global nomads again, there are some key lessons that I can remember and take away. Some of them I’ve blogged about in the past (see previous posts on Bridging Worlds and Diversity), but some I’m still learning.

Let me explain:

A few weeks ago I faced a very challenging decision: I’d been offered admission to a Master’s Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education [wait, what?!? When I finished undergrad, I didn’t even want to get a Master’s, much less apply to Harvard! Long story]. It was an International Education Policy program, which had basically become my dream program–nine months of intensive coursework and internships, and an M.Ed on the other side. I could either remain in the work force or go back to school.

After a year of some pretty amazing trips to Haiti and working with Haitian educators, I decided I needed to accept Harvard’s offer of admission. [Guys, I’m going to Harvard!!!]

Choosing to go to Harvard meant that I’d have to move. Since it was less than a year ago that I’d loaded my earthly possessions into a Penske truck and driven them up to Massachusetts, I wasn’t too keen on packing them up again. But with the help of some lovely friends, it happened and I relocated twenty minutes south to Somerville.

I’ve never felt happier after a move than I have in the past three days.

In contrast to the previous places I’ve inhabited in the United States, I’m finally back in a city. Not one of those suburb towns that pretends to be a city–a real city. With a subway system, and permit parking, and traffic that yields to pedestrians, and systems that are enforced.

Don’t get me wrong–I’ve loved all of the areas and communities that I’ve lived in previously after moving to the United States. I enjoyed my college campus, North Carolina was beautiful, and suburban Massachusetts was hugely convenient.

But there’s something about being a city that is ridiculously homelike, regardless of the country it’s in, even though things like street sweeping and parking permits for moving vans are annoying. For the first time since being an adult, I can walk to the grocery store. I can walk to the nearest subway stop. There’s a bike path two blocks behind my apartment.

And most importantly, there are people. Lots of people, from all over the world. Walk into Panera, and you’ll hear three different languages. I hardly know any of these people, but they remind me that I’m part of humanity.

How does this relate to FIGT15? As I was finishing up an article this week, I was reminded of Katia Vlachos’ session called, “Home is What You Make It.” She described how we often define home in one of three ways: people, place, or feeling.

If we’re talking about people, I have homes all over the world. If we’re talking about place, I have a few of those as well.

But home as a feeling? I don’t know that I’d found that until I moved into a city.

Maybe this is the honeymoon phase of moving. I’m sure I won’t feel the same way when winter comes to Boston again, or when traffic gets congested, but right now, I love city living.


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