Memories hiding in Boston…REALLY???


By Kenneth Justice


By Kenneth Justice


~ In just a couple hours I board an airplane for Boston, MA on what is the latest leg of my Drinking in the Culture Tour, my attempt to break up the monotony of the daily grind by visiting 100 coffee houses all around the Western World meeting with readers, fellow bloggers, and everyone else in-between.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at a coffee shop in Pittsburgh, PA and met a young man who used to live in Chicago, “I’ve lived in a few different places in my life” he explained “And what I’ve noticed from my brief experiences of life in different parts of the country is that there really is no place like home” he said

While there are always exceptions; people are generally proud of where they are from. There is something almost ethereal about the way we view our home city, home state, or home province. We take pride in explaining to people the ins-and-outs of where we grew up; there’s something about the memories we have as children and the nostalgia that sticks with us for life.

I was born in Chicago and my earliest childhood memories all come from various experiences related to the urban neighborhood I remember; catching fireflies with a mason jar, on a small patch of grass in front of our house in the midst of the Chicago urban jungle is one of my earliest and most fond memories that I’ve cherished all these years later.

Memories are an important element of our lives. When we have good memories we tend to move through life with more ease……but when we have bad memories it can end up plaguing us for years. One young woman who I met at coffee recently has terrible memories of her youth, “my father had a lot of problems; drugs, alcohol, abuse. And all I remember from my childhood are awful experiences that often give me nightmares” she said. The young woman isn’t even 25 years old and she’s been divorced twice already and is currently struggling with a number of chemical dependency problems.

With so much of Western Culture being destroyed by boring strip malls and suburban sprawl; the childhood towns and communities that many of us remember are slowly fading away, “There used to be a cool brick building here that used to be one of the coolest coffee shops and next to it was a bar that had live music every weekend” I was told by a guy in Minneapolis two weeks ago, he was pointing to a rather ugly strip mall that now housed a Chipotle, a cell phone store, and a Subway.

Many of us think of yesteryear as ‘the good ole’ days’, and while its most likely that life back-in-the-day wasn’t quite as perfect as we remember it to be; the simple fact of the matter is that those memories from our youth often play a major role in how we view the world today. For me, I remember the cool urban art work and classic architecture of the downtown Chicago neighborhoods, so when I see boring rectangular strip malls replacing so much of the American landscape I feel a light twinge of sadness…..I wonder if the memories of my youth are now all that is left between my childhood and the life I once knew.

This weekend I’ll be in Boston, MA, a city I’ve never been to and I’m excited to be back on the East Coast where so much of the earliest memories of the United States are housed. What will Boston be like? Will the old city streets still harbor ancient memories of colonial America and the adventurous spirit that permeated so much of the New World? Will the people of Boston be as congenial and nice as the people I’ve met in so many of my other travels? Perhaps I’ll be sleeping with homeless people tonight if there is no room for me at the inn.

I never know what to expect each weekend that I travel, but for now I’m happy that I have a cup of coffee to sip before I board the airplane.


Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

38 replies

  1. I’ll be interested I hearing how your visit goes, as I am originally from Boston. I’m sure people will be friendly if you talk about the Red Sox or complain about the weather!

    • Its interesting, so many people here are concerned with me seeing Fenway….I love baseball and all, but seeing a stadium wasn’t really on the top of my list… although I was born in Chicago where we have the greatest stadium of all time 😉 (behind the Coliseum in Rome of course)

    • I know, its always been like that too! Even in the 70’s when the team was not very good. You’ll probably find that Cambridge is very different from neighboring Boston.

    • Just arrived in Cambridge and its like I’ve ventured into an entirely different world compared to downtown Boston.

    • You’ll have to go to all the “Squares”.
      Harvard Square, Davis Square, Kendall Square, Central Square.

  2. I often hear people talk about the past in a way that suggests that they’re looking through the old ‘rose tinted glasses’, but myself I actually tend towards having a more optimistic and positive view of the future than the past. I seem to be in a minority on that one though so perhaps I’m just naive or hopeful! Always enjoy reading your posts, I have to click on them the moment I see them, keep ’em coming! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement…. its been a long year…a lot of trips, a lot of states, a lot of coffee shops, and its been the encouraging things that people have said like you that keep me going 🙂

  3. The thing is, each place used to be different, unusual, have it’s own flavor. There was always something new, wherever you went. Now, wherever you go everything is the same. As you said, strip malls, same fast food places, etc. It’s as if all the individuality of places just disappeared. Individual shops can’t make it any longer. The creativity of each place has been replaced with sameness. Everywhere you go you seem to be in the same place.

  4. Enjoy the trip. Please be careful. Stay safe. – Enough said..

  5. I’ve been up and down the east coast, and seen many places out west, and I still say that Boston remains one of my favorite places that I’ve ever visited. I hope you get the time to enjoy some of what the city has to offer.

  6. I remember chasing and catching fireflies as a child, not in Chicago though;thanks for reminding me 🙂
    We’re made of old memories and young hopes; holding good memories helps me get through sad moments.
    Safe trip and more amazing stories for you to see and us to read ☕️

  7. I can relate to this post a lot! When I hit 15/16 i left my home situated in the middle of my home-country to go to high-school… Lived in a dorm (a 2 bedroom apartment with 5 other girls) for 3 years and it was great. The best memories of my life from this high-school. After this I moved to the opposite side of the country to go to another school for 2 years. Home for maybe one weekend a month (if I could even afford the trip then). Next I moved to Ireland where I have been for 7 years now and I can really say- There IS no place like home, where you parents are, your family, the good old memories that I so often miss. Of course I do realize that i need to move on with my life as everyone does. But we are still allowed to get nostalgic from time to time and escape to the past paradise from our current adult lives. I too had a great childhood growing up in a country side village surrounded by forests and lakes nearby and I always get angry and sad when I hear of people who had a terrible time with their families. I think having a decent childhood with good memories should be not only every person’s human right but it should actually happen, you know? Anyway… Great post again, Kenneth 🙂

    • Your story reminds me of so many experiences in my life. I think some of the best times in my life were living as a single person in my late teens and early twenties…..

  8. Sometimes we need to hold onto our past so we can enjoy the future.

  9. Good or bad. My memories of the old days are brick buildings with mother sitting in front or in the kitchen. talking while the kids played. A piece of rope sticking out the door to open from the outside.Not something to do today unless you want your place emptied. The watchful eye of the social club is lost behind the concrete walls and steel doors

    Have a great time enjoying the coffee and smiles.

  10. Kenneth I am remembering how nervous you were on the first US trip. Do your thoughts really go to being homeless? or is that literary? I never paid attention to numbers of your bloggers until you changed your format. Seems like this is your full time job now and this podcast is changing it into something bigger.All that bigness would make just about anybody future oriented.

  11. ‘those memories from our youth often play a major role in how we view the world today.’
    very very true

    I grew up on a farm. Lots of good memories.

    Have you see the movie Nebraska?

  12. I think of my hometown kind of like an annoying sibling. I love it to death, but sometimes it gets on my nerves. I’ll poke fun at my hometown to other people, but if another person whose not from the town makes fun of it, I get defensive. I can only make fun of it because it’s my sibling/town. Everyone else is wrong….. that makes sense, right?

    Also, fun fact: malls are going out of style. Today’s youth prefer to hang around restaurants more than shopping malls. Maybe that landscape of coffee shops and bars will come back. Of course, the generation after may prefer shopping malls, again and we’ll see the landscape change to accommodate them.

    I’ve realized recently that a lot of trends are aimed at youth, who have money and no bills. They can buy random stuff while the rest of us are busy with loans and mortgages. Whether it be buildings or fashion, it’s all aimed at younger people (for the most part).

    • “its all aimed at younger people”
      Totally agree….. so much is changing in our country… some for the good. Some for the bad…. what can we really do but accept it?

  13. Memories 🙂 I recently wrote a post about memories. They’re so important. I definitely have fond memories of growing up (mostly) in southern California. And of a few other states I loved in. Even though one of my aunts has lived in another state for 30 years, raised her children, divorced, advanced in her career, she still thinks of ca as home. Nice post Kenny!

  14. Totally freaks me out that you arrive not knowing where you’ll stay – but it seems to be working out for you! 😉 I am very proud of my state, and even though I’ve lived in several different areas and places, they’ve always been suburban – and I’m raising my son in a suburban landscape… and not much changes in the suburbs!

    “I think the message to, uh, psychos, fanatics, murderers, nutcases all over the world is, uh, “do not mess with suburbanites”. Because, uh, frankly we’re just not gonna take it any more. Ya know, we’re not gonna be content to look after our lawns and wax our cars, paint out houses. We’re out to get them, Don, we are out to get them.” -The Burbs

  15. I always forget all my best memories.

  16. We have to be careful with memories since they can trigger nostalgia for better times in our lives. We often idealize the past. In fact, no period of time or place is perfect. I’ve met people older than I am who claim that the 50s were the best years. Honestly? Not for everyone. As for Boston, it is a great city where I have lived for five years. You’re right, New England is the craddle of the American history and the past is palpable everywhere, especially in Boston and the surrounding towns. But with some of the top schools in our country, this area is also turned to the future. You’ll meet interesting people there. Enjoy!

  17. I remember almost nothing of my childhood (unless I see something today that sparks a memory), and I’ve moved so many times, both here and overseas, that my ‘memories’ of home vary. Home for me is wherever I make my nest and feel surrounded by objects that are pleasing to my eye and comfortable.

    Home is where the heart is. I don’t have friends or family living close (except for one good friend living in the same block of apartments as me), so in one way, people don’t come into my equation of ‘home’. It’s the things – sight, sound, smell, touch that make home for me. I never really called Australia ‘home’ until I retired 4 years ago. I always had the dream of living in some foreign land or travelling overseas again (until I had to take early retirement with chronic ill health). And because I remembered little of my childhood (well, only the bad incidents), my mind was always open to another kind of living or lifestyle.

    Hope you enjoy Boston (and find a good bed for the night). And if ‘there’s no room at the inn’, I’m sure the homeless would welcome another interesting face to share their space.

    • I ended up finding a place to stay…… and this morning I found out where the homeless sleep so if I can’t get a room tonight I’ll sleep with them 🙂

%d bloggers like this: