Our Epic Stateside Trip, Part 3: Our Fair City, Cambridge, Mass

Back to the post I started to write months ago. I am writing this now, in mid-January. But I must now conjure up the days of last (North American) summer. We’d left the dreary Gisborne winter and first landed in Chicago. We did five days in Chicago, followed by six days in New York City. We were now embarking on the third leg of our Epic Stateside Trip, driving the once-familiar route between Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

01We were soooo excited to be seeing our dear friends that we were frustrated to find tons of traffic that afternoon. We were thrilled when we saw this sign!

We were greeted by our friends in one of our favorite neighborhood parks. The kids re-acquainted themselves, and in only a matter of minutes, were playing again as if the previous 12-month separation was only a dream.

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We then settled in at our friends’ Hil and Dave’s house. And we proceeded to re-live what was once such a regular occurrence, a mildly chaotic, totally hilarious, happy multi-family dinner.

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Day 1: Tuesday, August 6

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A bunch of us headed down to Boston’s Public Garden and The Common for some city livin’. Thora’s buddies, Zach and River had camp, so Mia and Thora had some special girls-only bonding time. Just to be clear, there are few things that are as heartbreaking to me as seeing Thora and Mia cling to each other as if to a separated twin.

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We hit a lot of the familiar sites: The Make Way for Ducklings statues in the Public Garden.

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The Swan Pond in the Public Garden. Miraculously, no one fell in. This shot was followed by a turn on the swan boat.

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.More sisterly PDA from Thora and Mia.

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American imagery, even corny imagery like this brassy display on the carousel, was surprisingly novel to me now that we never see the soaring eagle or the stars and stripes.

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Side-by-side carousel-ing.

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A dip in the iconic Frog Pond, a staple for hot, city kids.

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08Yay! Pickles! May I introduce you to Grillo’s Pickles, this niche, pickles-only shop. Back before we moved out of Cambridge, I was simultaneously ecstatic (I love pickles!) and shattered (I was moving away from a city that had a niche pickle shop?!?) to learn that Grillo’s existed, and right across from my tattoo artist’s shop, of all convenient places! So on that Tuesday, I was thrilled when I saw the Grillo’s cart, across the pavilion from a Clover food truck. Heaven!

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After a significantly long and warm walk back to Cambridge’s Central Square, the culinary tour followed the pickles and gourmet food-truck food with gourmet ice cream at Toscanini’s. This was turning into a Best Of food day for me.

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11The kids did more of this. Thora sees Mia as the sister she longs for. Auric sees Mia as his girlfriend who happens to be twice his age. Mia was happy for all the love, I think.

That night, Sean and I left the kids with a crew of the remaining families so that we could play a night of bridge at our old bridge club at MIT. We had a sub-par night of bridge but had an awesome time. We miss those guys and gals! We followed the game up with a late-night dinner and beers at the MIT-area gastro pub Lord Hobo, where we split, among other things, a small plate of fancy schmancy mac and cheese. Food-wise, on this day, I died and went to heaven, what with the Grillo’s and Clover and Toscanini’s and then elevated mac n cheese!?! “Far out!” as the Kiwis would say. “Too much!”

14Day 2: Wednesday, August 7

The weather was hot and the skies were clear. It was a perfect day for a trip out to Walden Pond.

Here is part of the crew. We were a big crew that day. Here we are on the sand and in the water. We were everywhere.

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Here is Auric and his bestie, Etta. Even after almost six months, this photo still gets me.

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We broke up the swimming and basking with the hike around the perimeter of the the pond.

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After a day at the pond, we all found our way back to Hil and Dave’s. While the grown-ups prepared dinner, the kids put on dress-up clothes and had a cookie sale on the street. As you do…

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Whatever this marketing strategy is, it’s working.

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A tantrum gets the best of the giraffe. Lila’s off the sales team for the moment.

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21We then proceeded to have a 6-family dinner, which is caught on film! This panorama shot was taken by Greg’s brother, Joe. This may be the only photo like this in existence! Thanks, Joe!

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This photo of a guitar-playing Triceratops riffing an endless loop of “Born to Be Wild” is also probably the only one of its kind in existence. Photo credit: Me. You’re welcome.

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01The Ladies then gracefully left (queue sudden inconsolable weeping from all children at once as we run for the door) for a rare and appreciated night out. Central Square dance spots, here we come! Okay, lets try another one. Surely this one will have decent dance music. Yikes. Okay, one last one. Fuck it. Let’s just drink and sway to this endless, and unvarying trance loop. Regardless, there ain’t a finer bunch of ladies. On or off the dance floor. Especially on. I love you gals!

Day 3: Thursday, August 8th

This day was filled with a bunch of running around. I remember fun outings shopping for kids clothes with Summer and Lisa. Was this the day we had an appointment with our tenants? Perhaps a couple other things? See, THIS is why I’m always whipping my phone out and taking snaps! Because if I don’t have photographic evidence of it, it didn’t happen.

Day 4: Friday, August 9th

This day was the day I was eagerly anticipating, the day of our Back in Town/Sarah’s Birthday Party, hosted by our great friends, the Doyles (highlighted on this very blog for their trip to New Zealand in April 2013). And it was great! So many people turned out for it, I was in heaven! Catching up with so many good friends. It was beautiful and painful all at once. I didn’t pick up my phone once to take a single snap, so engaged was I in everyone around me. I laughed, I hugged, I accidentally coughed a loogie on Jaime’s tie! It was the best. We had a gazillion temporary tattoos as party favors and by the end of the night, I don’t think there was a single person un-tattoo-ed. Thankfully, Thom snapped a bunch of great photos. Sadly, not everyone is represented. I guess that just means that we’ll have to do this all again next time! The following are Thom’s gorgeous photos.

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Day 5: Saturday, August 10 (my birthday)

Um. There are no photos of this day. Because the catered food gave us all food poisoning. All of us…

Day 6: Sunday, August 11

Our last day in town. It was gut-wrenching, this day playing out. On the one hand, I wanted to somehow postpone the moment when we would get into our rental car and drive away. On the other hand, I didn’t want to keep enduring the anticipation of that goodbye. (I’m crying now as I type this.) On the other hand, I wanted to get as far away as possible from the minor epidemic we’d launched in New England. (The “puke dominoes” as I like to call them, continued to fall as the people who believed they’d miraculously dodged the fated bullet were subsequently taken down like all the people before them. Sub-note: I like to mix metaphors into a creamy stew and then ice a cake with those metaphors.) I joke. Of course I joke. To alleviate the sadness of leaving, I joke. We like our life here in New Zealand. Love it. But those friends… It was tearful.

Again, we had a beautiful, hot summer day and we enjoyed it at Riverside Press Park. Here the kids ham it up for some photos that Thom was taking.

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And here is the final photo Sean took on that trip. Thank you friends for showing us the best visit we could hope for (minus The Plague). We love you!

25The way we ping-ponged back and forth around the Northeast was not our initial travel plan. However, as we were piling into our rental car and pulling onto the Pike bound for New York City, I was thrilled that we’d fallen into this itinerary. Our moods were lifting. We were heading back to our favorite city. As Thora likes to say, “New York, New York, New York. The city so nice, they named it thrice.” I’m not kidding. She really likes to work “thrice” into her lexicon. And I mean this with all seriousness when I say that that is one of the many reasons why I love her.

So wiping the tears from my cheeks, we drove south. And similarly, wiping the tears from my cheeks now, I look forward to the next post, “Our Epic Stateside Trip, Part 2b/4: New York City the second time around.” Stay tuned…

This entry was posted in Birthdays, Expatriating, New Zealand, Returning, Summer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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