The first time I visited Boston, I was dead-set on attending Northeastern University, and the universe seemed to be telling me this was a good idea. It was August, a balmy 80 degrees, and my assigned tour guide was, objectively, the hottest one (I say "objectively" because our group somehow ended up three times as big as everyone else's, and entirely female).
I told my dad after the school tour, strolling down sunny, perfectly manicured Newbury Street, that I wanted to move there right away and never leave.
"That's great," he said, "But please realize it's not always going to be like this."
He pointed out that once November hit and the city froze over, it wouldn't be much different from New York, Chicago or even Cleveland. It would be a blistery, miserable -- albeit intellectual and history-seeped -- hellscape just like our hometown in northeastern Ohio.
Obviously, I didn't choose to attend Northeastern (I changed my mind after meeting with my current advisor last spring -- he and the Dwight Schrute bobblehead in his office sold me on Miami). But last week, three years after initially visiting, I was back in Boston -- this time for a grad school tour.
As my dad promised, it was freezing. But, besides the temperature, it was still pretty much exactly how I remembered it: smaller and cleaner than New York, older and prettier than Chicago.
When I visited Boston three years ago, I did my best not to love it too much, because I didn't know if I'd be able to move there the following summer. I had to do the same thing last week, because I have no idea whether I'll be accepted to grad school there or not.
"It's going to be so nice to have this as your quad!" my mom squealed, gesturing to Boston Common after we finished our tour. I reminded her then (and several more times that afternoon) that there's only about a one-third chance that will be the case.
I'm also actively trying not to romanticize the city too much, because if someone told me things like this about Cleveland, I'd scoff. But Cleveland is hard to love, even after suburb-hopping south of it for 21 years. It's easy to love Boston, especially if you're only visiting for three days at a time.
I should also note that I'd downloaded Tinder the day before arriving in Boston, to see which of my high school classmates were still single (terrifyingly few of them, for the record). I kept it for a few days, to browse Boston's young-ish male population which was, as expected, impeccable.
I did match and start a conversation with someone in their second year at Harvard Medical School, so if this is the last column of mine you see in the paper, it's because I've dropped out and gone to live with him in Brookline.