Among the many gates in Harvard Square leading onto campus, there is one through which I choose to consistently pass when hoping to dodge the chaos and cut straight to home. Inscribed above the opening it reads, “Enter to Grow in Wisdom.” Every.single.time. I pass through that gate, I smile a bit and feel a sense of pride. I didn’t go to Harvard undergrad and certainly will not be graduating from the Law School, but I absolutely grew in wisdom. And not just wisdom: I grew in love.
I’ve been wondering if I’d ever be able to truly recount the memories I’ve made over the last three years and the people I’ve met. And if I did remember all of those things – good + bad – could I do any of it justice when writing it down? And here goes my attempt, to follow in Erich Segal’s footsteps and tell a (much) shorter, but similarly sweet story of love set in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It started with just the two of us. Leaving our homes and others we loved for a future solely ours. We were nervous - about everything. While at times we were certain law school (specifically 1L) at Harvard would be the worst and ultimately the end of life as we knew it, it turns out that it was actually the best. While E worked hard to make deadlines, meet people and earn the grades, we somehow found an insane amount of time to spend together. Breaks of all kinds: lunch, fall, winter (times 2) and spring; early afternoons off on a Friday for trips to the Cape or weekend getaways with friends; fun outings to attend on school nights; time to host parties ourselves – it’s actually kind of crazy to look back on it all now. Our love, trust and support grew quickly and immensely in this unique environment, and it couldn’t have been more fitting for our year of engagement and our first years of marriage. I’ll forever - forever - remember how we were in this time.
Then the love grew within myself. I learned my way around Cambridge and Boston. Checked out new spots around town I’d read about for food, drinks or atmosphere. Ate, drank and shopped by myself. Found a new job and made contacts. Pursued plans and eventually, friendships with interesting people I met. Planned our wedding. Picked up some law school lingo. Worked on my long-distance relationships. Grew accustomed to the cold. Re-worked my wardrobe (shoes + all). Learned to let go, and mean it. And, I wrote. I wrote about it all, recording my humble southern view of everything. With this came a confidence. I was slowly becoming the woman I had envisioned being for many years.
It continued with my surroundings. If you’ve read previous entries, you’ll see there’s not much I don’t like about this place. Growing up Southern, I never really knew a true spring or fall, and they’re simple beautiful. I’ve even come to like winter. There’s a quiet that comes along with the cold and I find a calm in it. We’re close to the Cape, apple orchards, ski resorts and New York City, all of which we take advantage. Boston is a vibrant city that isn’t overwhelming and Cambridge offers the feel of a small laid-back town that fits our lifestyle most days + nights. This place was different than where I’d come from, and I can’t explain the excitement that eventually filled me after the initial sadness of saying goodbye wore off.
But perhaps what I was least prepared for was how quickly my love soon spread to others. Over bottles of wine, holiday parties + various themed get-togethers (prom party anyone?), scorpion bowls, LOST recaps, spring break planning, impromptu karaoke performances, cookouts, small talk at formals and happy hours of various organizations, I developed a handful of friends. And they quickly became my weekly staples for fun, gossip and general girl catch-up. And while we won’t be left alone (far from it, as we have a solid group of amazing friends not of the law school crowd) the streets of our immediate neighborhood are sure to feel like somewhat of a ghost town after these friends disperse down the coast and across the country over the next few weeks. I find myself at a loss, and with an even longer list of long-distance upkeep than I had when I first arrived.
The truth of the matter is, in the beginning, the move I thought was sure to rock my lifeboat, did just that. But in ways I never could’ve imagined. I was forced to walk outside the lines that I’d drawn for myself. Forced to open up to types of people + places I’d never experienced. Forced to look at my relationship with E in ways that I hadn’t even thought to. And most of all, forced to see myself in a light that I’d never stepped into.
We came here to do one thing, and it is done. I’m excited for the new chapter on which we’re about to embark. We’ll be staying here another year while E completes his clerkship over in Boston. And I’ll continue to immerse myself in everything this area offers, knowing that one day, possibly in a year or two, we will be moving on yet again.
But thanks to the last three years, if there’s any wisdom that I have gained, it’s that the best part of life actually lies through the gates of the unexpected. And that, is the best southern perspective I could’ve ever received.