June 4, 2007

95 Days Later

Three months on, I'm still getting to know Cambridge and my new neighbors. On the whole, it's been as welcoming and smooth a transition as I could have wished for, much less hoped for or expected. I'm wrote this post from the congenial atmosphere in Paddy's, a local fixture since 1934. The regulars are a mix of the backbone of the city, so to speak, policemen, firemen, tradesmen and repairmen, with veterans and old salts sprinkled liberally throughout. The pub itself has some of the old country feel about it, as decades-long friends and neighbors but rounds more often than single bottles or pints, though the florescent lighting is a bit harsh.

The presence of a storied local is one of many net positives in the move. The other side of the ledger isn't clear -- the cost of food and housing aren't negligible here and may be unsustainable in the long run -- but on the whole I'm sure I made the right choice when I moved here from Roslindale in the beginning of March. While I miss the Arnold Arboretum, Shadow and Roberta, my (new) roomate's dog, have been running around Fresh Pond a couple of times a week, which amounts to about four miles and change. These days, it's going faster and without much of a pause, a sign that I might actually be returning to some semblance of physical shape. Shadow is game, after he gets through marking at the beginning of the circuit or dropping off the inevitable deposit at the bank, so to speak, though I notice that he's perhaps lost a step in his smooth gait to match the increasing grey around his muzzle. He'll be seven in August, no longer the muscle-bound bolt of black lightning that I adopted five years ago this May.

I took three significant steps towards residency on Friday as well, acknowledging "on paper" what's been true in reality for a while: I signed up or a library card at my local library, just three blocks away, paid the excise tax on my truck and visited City Hall to secure the golden ticket that is a Cambridge resident parking sticker.

A parking pass, library card and taxes; I'm on my way to residency, anyway.

There are other, less tangible benefits to the move as well. Proximity to the Minuteman Commuter Bike Trail at Alewife, running all the way up to Bedford. A ten minute walk to Porter Square's T stop, shopping center, restaurants and music venues. A quick exit to Route 2 outbound or onto 16 to go into the city. A reasonable Chinese restaurant, Lucky Garden, a mere block and a half away, with creditable versions of any number of tasty dishes. The Fresh Pond shopping center only a walk -- or blink of a bike ride -- away through Dennehy Park, where the inexpensive if average-sized wonders of the cinema await, along with the paycheck-devouring aisles of Whole Foods. The young Indian brothers who run the convenience store next door that embody laid back ease and good humor. The library around the corner or the Hi-Rise Bakery a few blocks beyond that.

That laundry list, of course, ignores my luck in roommates or the cool twenty-somethings that inhabit the floors above me, along with the dog-friendly backyard, storage and laundry in the basement.

Karma comes around. I'm sure that with time other black marks may emerge. For now, I'm more than content to meet new neighbors, watch the vegetable garden explode out of the ground and pots in the back garden and make the most of the opportunities that now lie within walking distance.

I can't say the adjustment to single life has been easy. There's no doubt that the choice to move to Huron Village, as some realtors have taken to calling the neighborhood, has made the transition less painful.

Cantabridgianity, here I come.

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