A few weeks ago, I took the long way to work. My commute takes up to 45 minutes, and it is all city driving. To take the long way means adding 20 minutes to the route, driving straight down Massachusetts Avenue in grueling stop-and-go traffic from Arlington all the way down to the Charles River in Cambridge. But if the mood is right, and I have the time, I always enjoy it.
The long way takes me past the memories of my adult life, as I have lived in the Cambridge/Somerville/Boston area for a little over twenty years. Arlington, where I live, has changed, but crossing into Cambridge brings even more changes. Stores that didn't exist five years ago are shouting at me to come in. Buildings that didn't exist ten years ago are now part of the routine scenery. Outlets are now college buildings. Banks are now restaurants. Change is everywhere.
I feel like there's a memory for every block of Mass Ave. There's my favorite burrito place in Porter Square (no, not Anna's). There is where my wife and I used to buy wine. There is our favorite restaurant back in our "restaurant" days. Of course, there are the places that are long gone. I was glad I knew them, back when they were around.
From Harvard Square to Central Square, I felt like I've been to every bar during those first few years of moving here. Of course, that's not true. People will mention a bar to me and if I ask if it's new, they'll say "it's been there forever." That's OK. I don't go out drinking much anymore.
On the long way to work, I will sometimes drive by the building where I had my first job out of college. I conjure up the faces from that wonderful time. I know lots of people who have moved out of Boston, but I stayed, and I'm glad I did.
Mostly, I'm grateful for the parking. I pull into my office building's garage, thankful that I do not have to hunt for spaces in Kendall Square, like I did the first few months of my working life. At moments like this, I sometimes feel like I've made it. Sitting in my car, I'm filled with gratitude.