It's still a challenge to verbalize the experience
but heart and soul in Boston is becoming visible. So far I'm finding it, feeling it, where/when some people--not all people--come together and look at each other while they're talking.
As the oldest child of four, one of my favorite pastimes was scaring my younger siblings. Jumping out from the back of a closet and yelling "boo" (why do we yell 'boo'? who chose that word?) probably stirred my adrenalin as much as theirs. I loved it.
For a couple of days now, I've derived a similar perverse and exquisite pleasure from waiting until I'm a few feet away from a Bostonian, just beyond arm's reach, before delivering a triple punch: eye contact, big smile and "Hiya doin'?" It's soooooo much fun!
It's mischief--not connection.
Over on Wakullah in Roxbury, it almost feels like Sesame Street: people out on the stoops and kids playing in the street; at least half of the residents offering a greeting in passing, even to me, a stranger in their midst. I hear a fair number of them were raised in the South, though, so it's no surprise I haven't been able to shock and startle them with the smile-and-speak-routine I've used in Jamaica Plain.
They have a community garden on Wakullah and hold an annual street party/cookout. People not only know their neighbors' names, their lives are sufficiently commingled to produce shared history and memory. They tell and retell stories about great meals and births and deaths. And it was in such a setting, when they were looking at each other and me and talking about something they all remembered, that I perceived the first glimmers of Boston heart and soul. I got this deep feeling of ... I don't know what to call it yet. It's sort of like how I imagine the first day out of prison must feel after maybe 7 years behind bars.
Or like being touched in the small of my back by a friend.
Last night, some of the Wakullah Street folk came here to Jamaica Plain, where I've been staying for several days. My hostess opened her home for a meeting and potluck for Boston-area activists and others who have a Gulf Coast connection of some kind. In the socializing after the meeting, I got another heart-and-soul rush as Monica and Karen and Derrick laughed and chatted together.
I thanked them for being there at one point because I didn't know what else to say. A non-specific sense of well-being radiated from somewhere and warmed my solar plexus and the rear of my skull as they talked. I've never done heroin but I was feeling something akin to the supreme, nodding good feeling that some users describe. I felt like everything's gonna be okay, everything is okay.