Anyone who has ever spoken to me for more than five minutes knows how much my soul craves a city that I had never in my life seen but which I nonetheless called home. My love affair with this city, with Boston, began a few years ago after having my heart broken by New York City. I recovered quickly enough – Boston is a comforting lover, attentive, adhering to your every need where New York haughtily brushes you off as another tourist.
But Boston invites you. It holds its arms open for you, because it knows what it’s like to be unappreciated. You feel enveloped in its essence, its history, its culture, and if you’re anything like me, you know you’re home.
The history of Lahore runs through my veins and I never believed I would find another place like it, but the moment I stepped onto Boston territory after a seemingly endless three-hour flight, I felt a familiarity you can only feel if you’re from the kind of city that has seen it all. Lahore, Boston, Delhi, London – if you have ever been there, and especially if you’ve been raised there, you know what it’s like to have the vibrancy and tragedy of hundreds or thousands of years rush through your body, a split-second traverse through time. Then it stops. And you’re left with that lingering tingle of nostalgia.
My three days in Boston were the best days of my life – not only was I in the city of my dreams for the first time, I was with my friend, Anna, a friend whom I’d known for five years but never met. Twice the felicitation.
But after the initial exhilaration, a different feeling came over me. As I walked through the city of Boston, through the common, arm in arm with one of my best friends, my mood transitioned from that of felicity to one of complete and utter contentment, the kind you feel when you come home after a long time. Nowhere was this more manifest than when I was sitting on a bench in Boston University.
As I looked around at this university I would do anything to attend, a university for which I willingly give up not one, but several organs (also free-time so I can study, I suppose), Anna asked me a question:
“What’s it like, finally being here?”
In retrospect, she could have meant anything by it. Being in Boston? In Boston University? With her?
But no matter how she meant it, the answer I gave her was true for everything. “It feels so natural. I feel as if I’m meant to be here. I’m not excited, I just feel…good.”
And I did. In that moment, I was at peace with the world. In that moment, everything was perfect, everything was worth it, the struggle of a year, the rejections, the heartbreak of saying goodbye to friends, everything was worth it.
Though now I am back, sitting in my spot, in my couch, in my apartment, in Dubai, I still miss Boston. But knowing that in just a year, if all goes as planned, I will be back home…I’m ready for anything. I’m ready to tackle every trial and tribulation. A year of relentless study, activities, missing my friends, saying goodbye to people I love, it’s all going to be worthwhile for the moment I land in Boston.
To everyone confused by the prospect of the future, not knowing where they want to study, I highly recommend Boston. If not for the nostalgia of being in a city brimming with history, then for the nightlife; for the youthful atmosphere; for the mass of colleges; for the diversity; for the clam chowdah and lobstah macaroni and cheese! There’s no other city that will be more happy to receive you than Boston.
I always get a little embarrassed putting up my writing on the blog but, well, I’m proud of this. And I miss Boston like crazy. So.