Chairs Missing by Joe, resident at the New England College of Optometry


The Move

This weekend my wife and I packed up all of our worldly belongings into a Budget rent-a-truck, pulled out on to Harvard Ave, went through the toll booths of exit 18 in Allston/Brighton and drove west on the Mass Pike out of Boston one last time. Thus brought a close to the time I could call myself a Bostonian and gave final closure to the chapter of my life about my time in optometry school. The next time I come to Boston it's as a visitor; for that matter, the next time I step foot on 424 Beacon it's as an employee and a doctor.

Originally I was going to write about my first weeks as a resident at the VA and about the residency conference, or my first days working for the school as a resident tutor/monitor. But jammed into the middle of my first month on the job was the stress of having to pack up and move.  Unlike the last time we moved, from Springfield to Boston, I would be working full time and have to MacGyver the bulk of Move-related activities into the weekends. Every night it became a "what can we do tonight to figure out the logistics of the move" night. Did we pack up everything in the storage space yet? Did we change this or that utility to the new address? Did we reserve the right moving truck? Thu,s as it has dominated my off-hours thinking, there was little else I could focus on writing about.

Moving day was something that I dreaded for months. The dread was multifaceted. The obvious factor is the stress of leaving the relative comfort of home to a new place. Our apartment was ours for four years, unlike many other friends and fellow students who moved from one "college" style apartment to the next after each year (or more during fourth year). And our place was a recently built condo. Probably because we were older than the average student, and my wife had a real job and real credit, we were able to a get huge and comfortable space that was somewhat reasonably priced for the size (or at least relative to Boston). We had central air, a parking space and a private roof deck with panoramic views of the city skyline.  The school was 15 minutes away by bike or 25 minutes by the T. Being in Allston, it was close to good restaurants, supermarkets and parks, but relatively quiet compared to the more densely populated areas near the Back Bay where most people who attend NECO choose to live . Yet it was also only a quick bike, drive or train ride right to where everyone lived and where all the activities and night life were.  It's saddest to leave if I focus on these facts.

When came the day itself, I kept wishing I could close my eyes and it would be done on its own. Yes, we were moving a month earlier than what is locally known as Allston Christmas, August 31st.  Yes, a late July or early August move is a less stressful day to move than when all the students move and the city becomes a paralyzed crazy quilt of  U-Hall blocked side streets and sidewalks jammed with old mattresses and broken microwaves. But there are still plenty of people with the same bright idea to try to dodge the traffic, so maneuvering is still somewhat limited. We accumulated so many new things, furniture especially, since we first came to Boston that we would need a bigger truck. Being about 5'4" with limited abilty to even see over the steering wheel made driving the 10 foot truck on the move in bad enough. Back when we were moving in, I nailed the side of a gas pump returning it, unable to correctly judge the width of the truck, but luckily we had bought the extra insurance. The added twist this time was that many of my (strong) friends had already moved. Thus I was faced with the Keith Hernandez moving scenario: I would have to ask people I didn't know very well to help us move. Would they think I was too forward? Was it too soon to "go all the way" on the friendship? In the end I was able to convince a few friends' boyfriends to help with the move (along with my brother, who is legally required to assist)  and it went off quickly and smoothly, virtually complication free.  We made it out to our new suburban location with nary a scratch on the truck, the extra insurance a gamble we lost this time. Today my back only still kind of hurts, mostly when I bend to the side doing the BIO part of the exams at work.

I really came to love living in Boston, and I could go on and on about all the things to see and do. A year ago I really felt like I could have lived here forever. But as friends moved away, I came to realize that a lot of Boston was in the people. The friends I made at NECO are truly what made living in Boston the great experience it was. As people slowly left for home over the last two months, I began to notice that Boston lost a little of its charm. I came to realize that I had been able to ignore some of the downsides of Boston life (or really of life in any city), like the traffic and crowds, or the lack of forests and really large green spaces, and now couldn't really look aside. And there's the price. For four years, taking out loans and paying (roughly) triple for an equal place outside the city was fine. But since I no longer have a job in the city, and my salary is that of a resident, it was hard to justify the cost when I was having to drive 25 miles outside the city anyway. So I leave with a heavy heart but also a potentially heavier wallet. As we settle into our new place, I'm sure I'll see the ups and downs of Boston metro-west life. I'm still getting adjusted to my new commute and the new traffic patterns to deal with. And to the eerily quiet nights, where I feel like it's strange to not see any people walking around. I do miss Boston, but in a way it's mostly the Boston circa 2010. And since I still have a few friends in left Boston (some of my fellow NECO residents), I'm sure I'll be back on the weekends more often than not.

Next time: the learning curve of the resident optometrist.


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