Our First Month in the US

It has been exactly a month since our first day in Boston. Our heads and my phone are about to burst from the sheer number of impressions and stimuli we have taken in, so I’m just going to spill them out.

Breathtaking Canadian landscapes. Neva humming the epic version of the Gravity Falls theme song. Saw dozens of whales leisure in the ocean as we approached Boston!

Simon kept asking for tea. Steven said that maybe we should stop asking for more tea, because the cabin crew might think we’re mad. Of course we’re mad! – Simon and I answered, – It keeps being 6 o’clock all the time, it’s continuously time to have tea, just like in Wonderland! (My mobile kept jumping to six o’clock every time we passed another time zone westwards).

One of my first impressions of Boston: Beacon Hill with its overwhelming centuries-old trees filled with loudly chirping sparrows, its gas street-lamps and the green patina on its copper facades, some of its old brownstones still revealing original mid-1800s windows turned violet in the sun due to excess manganese oxide.

Another prominent feature of downtown Boston are the multiple free libraries and book stores:

The New England Holocaust Memorial (founded by Holocaust survivor Stephan Ross) is probably the most impressive Holocaust memorial I have ever visited. It is designed as a corridor of several tall glass towers, each of them symbolizing a death camp: stepping into a tower, a visitor is engulfed in fine water vapor accompanied by a hissing sound — a stunning, unexpected recollection of a gas chamber in the otherwise idyllic scenery, surrounded by lush greenery, street musicians and old Irish pubs. The glass walls are engraved with millions of personal numbers which the camp inmates were once reduced to, but the numbers glitter in the sun, as if coming back to life.

Towering modern skyscrapers, elegant high-rise buildings from the early 1900s and the old State House, still adorned by the British colonial lion and the Scottish unicorn. The North End, also known as the Italian quarter, reminded us of downtown Amsterdam (like the Jordaan), probably because of its 17th century houses and the charming smallness of its busy terraces. The street lights say “wait” with a Boston accent:

The Charles River Esplanade with a view on Cambridge. Canada geese families next to the Boston Hatch Shell (outdoor concert venue). Me in front of my favorite purple allium flowers in Boston’s Public Garden, with George Washington trying to attack me from behind:

Awesome first impressions of Cambridge where the student hipster vibe is mixed with patches of quiet. We only wish the playgrounds were bigger: nowhere in the Boston area have we managed to find any playgrounds for older kids! We have also witnessed the preparations for a graduation ceremony at Harvard, which was very atmospheric, including the drums and the gowns (although Simon and Neva don’t seem to care for such things).

Simon has been practicing cubing a lot. Below are pictures of his sub-17 sec PB on a 3×3 and the result he got solving a mirror blocks blindfolded:

We are currently staying at our temp accommodation in the middle of Chinatown, a loud eclectic district where Asian languages are spoken on the streets and locals line up for a portion of famous dumplings and bubble tea. In fact, I have noticed that when I hear anyone say tea they most probably mean either bubble tea or ice tea, but not tea in the traditional sense! What happened to Chinese tea?

From Chinatown, we can easily walk to the harbor, where a reenactment of the Boston Tea party is an ongoing attraction.

The seals at the Boston aquarium and my little seals:

Our first time at the shore on the opposite side of the Atlantic, found a prehistoric carcass (horseshoe crab):

A garden of memories on Memorial Day at the Boston Common:

Simon’s recent and current obsessions include the puzzle game of Hexcells and Plusword, a really challenging variation of Wordle that we have added to our evening family routine (we now do Wordle, Cladder and Plusword every evening).

Boston street art

By some miraculous cosmic coincidence, our dear Oxiea was in town for a few days, so we ventured upon an art museum offensive together, first the Museum of Fine Art (where we have purchased a family membership) and then the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Boston’s hidden gem.

Isabella Stuart Garner has blown my mind. In don’t think I have ever seen any museum like this before. Discovering a graceful Italian patio behind a modest Boston facade was a shock already. The greatest surprise was that it didn’t feel like a museum at all, it felt like visiting an amazing collector’s home (who just happened to have Rembrandts and Degas, Matisses and Velzquezes hanging casually on her exquisitely draped walls). Gardner wanted that after her death, everything remained untouched. Nearly a century has passed, but inside her home it feels as if she has managed to stop time . The mysteries surrounding the place still keep the conversation going among the local Uber drivers: we have even watched a Netflix documentary about the yet unsolved robbery at the museum in 1990.

“Look! I wonder if they use original parts!” Simon points to the opposite side of the fashionable Newbury Street, where we stopped for an overpriced but really delicious Italian gelato and milkshakes. The three of us turn our heads to see the spectacular soap bubble machine plopping out bubbles. Meanwhile, what Simon was pointing to was an iPhone repair sign!

Simon in his element:

Below is a sheet from Simon’s sketchbook showing the way the makers of Gravity Falls encoded “Weirdmageddon”, the culmination of the Gravity Falls story, an Armageddon of sorts, using the Vigenère cipher. You may be wondering, why I’m mentioning Gravity Falls for the second time in this blog. No, it’s not just that the series’ 10th anniversary coincided with our 1 month anniversary in the US. The Gravity Falls theme song and everything about the series is Neva’s greatest obsessions these days and I’m thrilled to have been included: we have watched both seasons this month and finished on the night of my birthday. Neva is a walking Gravity Falls encyclopedia, reciting the hilarious but prophetic dialogues by heart. We have also had quite a few discussions about the main antagonist Bill Cipher being an embodiment of absolute evil and how his famous “meaning has no meaning” echoes today’s situation in postmodern politics with disinformation and war on truth.

And the rest of my birthday was very memorable as well. We did a tour of Boston on a WWII duck (amphibian bus) and took a swim in the ocean at the serene Nahant beach.

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