Boston Ave

10 Sep 2018

“Hey, you! Party at 298 tonight. You gonna be there?”

These were the first words an upperclassman said to me after I matriculated as a college student. I was walking home in the dark on my way back from somebody’s dorm before I met the trio of smiling seniors, stumbling over their words but eager to pass on their message.

“298 what?” I asked, clueless.

“298 Boston, man. It’s gonna be wild.”

I didn’t know any of them yet, and ended up walking home to a different adventure, but in my mind the edifice loomed large. 298 Boston. A house of myth and legend.

It later turned out that the three people I met that night were my frisbee teammates, and I just didn’t know them yet. It turned out the party they were talking about was fake, too - just a way to troll first years that were too naive to know what to do or where to go on those first few nights. This was pretty classic behavior for those guys, as I learned. But this didn’t bug me. BJ, TStarr, and Iago became some of my best friends over the course of that year - easily the seniors I felt closest to by the time they graduated - and a large part of that was due to how welcoming their house, 298 Boston, became over the course of the year. I loved the free-spirited attitude shared by those three guys and their prankster antics, and found myself sharing a bottle of whiskey and a few strong cups of mate with a couple of times a month. We practiced together, partied together, and turned 298 into a palace of dancing and drawing on each other in sharpie. The house was tall, 3-storied and thin, with a great porch on the third floor and a grotie basement, but it made me feel welcome on Boston Ave. I lived across campus and used to be afraid of the street, so it was good to have a place to go and be among friends.

When the gang graduated 298 returned to a house of myth and legend. The ‘party at 298’ lore surrounding it vanished slowly, like the drying-up of an old creekbed, and it faded from my vernacular almost without me realizing. But Boston Ave stayed. There were plenty of other places to go.

The street itself is long, bordering Tufts on two sides. The higher numbers are next to the new science buildings before the street intersects with Broadway at the old candlepin bowling alley. Where it meets College Ave, Boston opens up as a wide, all-way crosswalk with support for blind pedestrians, famously blaring “Walk sign is on!” every couple of minutes to the chagrin of the neighboring dorms and classrooms. Then it bends and follows the purple line all the way to Mystic Ave. Pizza places start to pop up across from the big Tufts parking lot. There used to be a row of tall, majestic trees lining Boston Ave - really nice, old trees that gave great shade and made the walk feel like it was along a forest pathway instead of a busy street - but they’ve been cut down in the last year. I cried when I saw the stumps, lined up like gravestones.

Once you pass the pizza places, Hillsides liquor store, and the rest of the shops, there are more houses. 288, where I used to play euchre on Friday evenings until the sun set. 16 Stoughton Ave, right off the main road where I made some of my best post-college friends. 227, where I used to escape to breathe a little fresh air in the wild nights of my first Tufts spring. 200 Boston Ave is the laboratory in which I developed DNA sequencing curriculum with BioSEQ, and the neighboring bus stop helped me get to my job interview for my first full-time job. These are little pockets of experience, lining Boston Ave, and there are many more that reveal themselves to me the closer I look at my past. For the web of people that share Boston Ave as a critical tributary, I can only imagine how deep and dense the tapestry of experience woven between them must be. Everyone walks the length of Boston Ave looking for something, and Boston Ave always has an answer. Whether it’s the answer sought, however, is not always certain.