Today, I walked into a gift shop and cried.
No, let me try that again:
Today, I walked into a gift shop and teared up.
The woman behind the counter cocked her head a bit in sympathy — she’d only asked if she could help me find anything. I’d spent a good ten minutes picking something up, putting it down, and picking it up again.
“I’m moving away,” I explained, blinking.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “Where are you moving to?”
“It’s not even that far!” I laughed a little, swiped at my eyes. Ugh, internal eye-roll. “I’m just looking for something from Somerville, you know.”
“Sounds like you need something from over here.” She gestured to a box on the floor filled with artwork. I knelt down and thumbed through them. I was only sort of looking; I’m picky about art, and I don’t usually drop $35 on something unless it speaks to my soul.
But there it was, about eight or nine pictures in, a framed painting of Mike’s in Davis Square.
In it, two men in hats are sitting outside under an umbrella. A young man with his hands in his pockets saunters out (probably a Tufts student), and there is just enough hidden for me to imagine me and Sally sitting at a table over a beer and buffalo chicken calzone.
I have found this extremely hard to write about. It has something to do with the mixed emotions, the excitement, the sadness, the change. When Gabe talks about all the things he won’t miss about this place (and there are definitely some I’ll be saying sayonara to), I mostly think of things I love:
On my way to work, how the door opens to the world and I actually feel like the female lead in some romantic sitcom.
The way the light pours into my bedroom and wakes me up (sometimes against my will).
The sunset from my bedroom window, how it makes me want to write bad poetry.
The green couch on the porch surrounded by a string of globed lights, red wine, and long conversations that leave us lighter, happier, no matter how heavy the talk was.
The bike trail.
So many delicious restaurants.
Nathan Tufts park and the bench on the slope where I sat and read and talked to my mom on the phone.
Waving to the gas station owner as I walk by, his big smile. “We should respect teachers more,” he says in his Middle Eastern accent. “They are teaching our children how to be good citizens!”
Sitting at True Grounds, trying to write but mostly watching, sipping iced coffee, anonymous.
But mostly I think I am saying goodbye to the woman I was when I came here.
As I handed the woman my credit card, she asked: “How long have you lived in Somerville?”
“Two years,” I said. She looked surprised.
“But that’s enough,” she said. “I would never want to leave.”