Boston Directions.

It is easy to get lost in a city like Boston. Unlike NYC and Toronto where you have a nice grid to follow (for the most part), navigating Boston streets have the ability to make you feel like you are in a labyrinth.  Especially is you are not from there and do not have a comprehensive understanding of things work.


In fact, the best way I heard it summarized for me five years ago was: "If you have to stop and ask for directions to somewhere, don't be surprised if you are told, 'You don't where that is? Then you don't fucking belong there. Just figure it out.'"


Boston can be a cold city like that. Back then, I hated that. But now I love it. It's harsh. And unfriendly. But having spent most of my life being known as "super nice" and "friendly," I love that Boston doesn't suck more energy out of me than I am willing to give.


There are many streets with the same name. Many streets are not labeled. Streets go only one way for quite a distance. Streets can be hidden and tucked into the smallest nooks and crannies. I lived on a street when I first moved to the city that had only one building on it... And it was at a known intersection... But not on either of the two streets that intersected... It's driveway off one of the streets... And it is considered a whole separate street.


So given all of this, I didn't bother to learn the names of all the streets I walked along when I lived in Boston the first time. I knew how to get to places, which streets to turn down. Which were ones to avoid walking down after dark. But the names of all the streets? No. Instead, I relied on landmarks.


I thought maybe I was the only one who was lazy and self-absorbed and did this. After six years living in Boston, I couldn't bother with knowing the names of streets? But as I learned last night, I am not the only one.


Dinner was with my best friend, Frogger,  in my renewed neighborhood of the South End. While fawning over a shared slice of genuine key lime tart (so many places "fake" the lime as being from the Florida Keys - SHAME), she was telling me about a divine grilled cheese sandwich cart that sits outside near her work building in Back Bay... And that I had to try it when I moved back. I asked her exactly where it was so I could make a note of it.


"Um..." she thought for a second. "It's at Dartmouth and Neiman Marcus."


I laughed.


"That's not really an address," I pointed out.


She agreed. But couldn't recall the name of the street that intersects with Dartmouth. So she named the closest marker she knew. And, as she knew it would resonate with me, she said Neiman Marcus.


The sad thing is, I SHOULD know what that street name is. The Hancock Tower sits on it; and I worked there for a few years. I would walk down that street all the time to get to work.


Later we walked past the intersection to get to the redone bar at the Copley Plaza Hotel. It's Stuart Street. And now I will always remember that.


I mean, after having moved to Boston the first time NINE YEARS ago, it is indeed time I learned the name of streets.