Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stranger in a Not So Strange Land

After sleeping for nine straight hours, I am fully refreshed and quite honestly, more than shocked that I am in Massachusetts. This trip had been on my mind for so long and now that it's finally here, I still can't believe it. As the plane descended into Boston yesterday, I stared down from my tiny window and smiled, knowing that the shock had not hit me yet. It did not hit me when I made my way to the luggage claim area. However, as soon as I heard the loud BUZZ and then the conveyor belt began to move, it dawned on me then that I was no longer in the South. I began to breathe a little harder and I glanced around at all the faces, wondering if perhaps they knew I was slowly about to scream, "Dear God, what have I DONE?!

And then, just like that, I told myself that I could either continue to go down this slippery slope that would lead me to nothing, or I could pull myself up by my clog straps (don't laugh!) and do what I do best - become an adventurer. So, I did just that. I got my baggage and made my way to the rental car area, to which I flirted shamelessly with the Dollar Rental Car guy (he asked me questions about New Orleans and if it was far from Memphis) who gave me an upgrade for free, and soon, I was driving out of Boston with a very large grin on my face and the World Cup Soundtrack playing quite loudly in Jackie O - the name of my car.

New England is a world to itself. That's actually putting it mildly. Everywhere you look, there is history, culture, cuisine, and scenic areas that are just too beautiful to be ignored. Such was the case when I made my way to Lowell, home of author Jack Kerouac and artist James McNeil Whistler. After getting purposefully lost several times just to admire the houses, I finally made my way Downtown and parked the car to walk. Lowell, as I said in one of my Facebook posts, is a blend of Northern Industrialism and hip urban from Boston. The city is represented by many races and they even have Cambodia Town, complete with shops, restaurants and everything else to represent the country. As I walked through Downtown, my mind kept returning to Mr. Kerouac and what he might have thought of Lowell.

After having a splendid dinner at a pizzeria, complete with two local beers and an apple tart that was beyond amazing, I made my way back to the car, only to turn around and walk a little bit longer. That's a blessing and a curse for me - once I am out and about, I love to just walk and soak in the area. I have been known to walk for hours without stopping. Or eating for that matter. However, as the sun began to set, I did return to Jackie O and off we went to locate Jack's grave. I had to find it. I did find the cemetery but I was not able to locate the site. With a solemn promise to return, I set off for the hotel, only to drive off again and make my way to New Hampshire. Although I had been to that state only twice and both times with my parents, I had never actually driven there myself. So, I did. The only thing I remembered about New Hampshire was that it was very green. Aside from seeing one deer that I think waved at me, I saw much green.

Now that it is a new day, I am ready to tackle my next town - Andover. I know that there will be a post about my visit there and I also know that it will emotional for me, as the tears are starting to form in my eyes now. I was there for a summer session yet it made such an impact on me that I will never forget.

So, yes, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Trouble is, the more I remember New England, the more I remember how much of a home it truly is.

Until next time.

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