Simmering in the City

17 Aug

On Friday afternoon, after receiving a clean bill of health from the doctor, I headed into Boston to meet up with some friends. I always tell people who aren’t familiar with the area that I’m from Boston, but I really live about 30 minutes south of the city, so I don’t spend too much time running around in my “hometown.” But now more of my friends have moved into the city, so it’s easier to go in for nights out.

My plan was to spend Friday and Saturday in the Boston area, and on Sunday drive to Amherst, almost 2 hours away to get some great food. One last big thrill at home. So on Friday I headed into town and, though I was lost at first because there never seem to be any street sign in Massachusetts, I eventually parked my car across from my friends house in Allston. From Allston, I took the Green Line into Boston to meet up with my friends after work. We had bought tickets to see comedian Dave Attell perform at the Wilbur Theater, and we were happy with the performance. Though dirty, he manages to somehow keep it in check and not lose the audience.

After the show we grabbed burritos, headed back to the apartment in Beacon Hill for a drink, and then went out to a bar/club called The Good Life. It could have been a cool spot, but there was only a small circle for a few break dancers, and there was no way I was going to get in the middle of that. After a while we’d had enough and flagged down a taxi. But a girl was getting out slowly and we waited politely. Once we got in the meter still said $9.40, so we told the driver to reset it. Apparently, the girl told him we would pay for her cab and he believed it.

The driver had an accent and I could tell he didn’t speak English very well, and I was genuinely mad that the girl thought she could just blow off a cab like that. We were going to go back into the bar to find the girl, but the driver just decided to cut his losses and move on. After that fiasco we just got some pizza and headed home.

The next morning my friend Dan headed off to the Countryfest Music Festival in Foxboro, while my other friend Dave who lives in Allston picked me up. We grabbed breakfast, met up with some other friends, and eventually made our way to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. By the time we got there many of the crowds had already left, and we had a good section of the beach to ourselves. We played football in the water, but eventually high tide came in and we ran out of beach, literally pinning us against the rocks at the retaining wall. It was time to go.

Back to Allston we went, cleaning up and eventually heading out to a party and then a bar until closing time. But somehow, after walking a friend back to her car and then watching some TV, we didn’t get to sleep until 4 am. And by the time I woke up at 6 am the heat and humidity were already very high.

My other friend Dan was still in Sharon after the concert and he had to take the commuter rail into Boston. I picked him up at 12:30 pm and we headed off for Amherst, our old college town. We’d been talking about going back there for a day to eat at our favorite places for about 6 months, and it was something that kept me going every time I had a lousy meal in Ecuador. Now we were finally going to do it.

One of the things that always irked me about driving out to Amherst was driving on the Mass Pike. It’s just so open, with nothing to look at but a million trees, and with hardly any exits, you have few chances to pull off in the event of heavy traffic, which always happens. Today was one of those days. Shortly after starting the trip traffic was bumper to bumper, and we were backed up for 14 miles with 2 separate accidents. The temperature was 96*, and the air conditioning in my car was broken. As a friend said, it was hell on wheels.

Both of us were sweating profusely, and we had to pull off at the rest area to get drinks before passing out. We were seriously considering just pulling off at the next exit and turning around. Neither of us had eaten and it was getting late, and I was wondering if it would really be worth the hassle. I was dehydrated and feeling dizzy. But we had also been thinking about the burritos from Bueno y Sano and the pizza from Antonio’s for months. It’s mouth watering food, I tell you.

We kept driving, each give and go on the clutch wearing on my feet. I was leaning towards going home, but Dan wanted to go on. So we did. For miles we dragged until finally it broke and we were free. A trip that normally takes between 1.5-2 hours with lighter traffic took us almos 3.5 hours. But we were back in Amherst, finally. We parked the car just as rain started to fall and went straight for Bueno y Sano, our favorite burrito joint.

One of the best aspects of the Bueno burrito is the wrap. An underrated aspect of the burrito, we believe that a truly great burrito needs to be held together, so that you can stand it up and it won’t fall apart. Bueno burritos normally go above and beyond with this test, but today we were ordered the Grande’s, and I guess there was too much for the wrap to handle. Both burritos started falling apart. It was disappointing, but still delicious. Nothing beats those burritos.

Once we were satiated, we walked around for a few minutes and maybe 25 minutes later headed to Antonio’s Pizza for our second meal. We both got the Chicken, Bacon, Ranch pizza. It was tough to finish it after a grande burrito, but we had to. It was too good and we’d come too far. The meals were successful. We’d only been in town about an hour, but it was time to go. We quickly drove around the UMass campus to see the changes and started the trip home.

Hitting some light traffic on the way back, I finally got Dan to South Station by 7:30 and was home by 8 pm. A very long travel day, and perhaps it was too much. I’m still not sure if it was worth it, but the food definitely justifies the hassle. And maybe in another year we’ll do it again. Just hopefully with less traffic and sweating.

My last weekend was fun and I was able to see some friends for the last time. I’m off to Argentina on Thursday, and a whole new set of adventures will begin. But I’ll always be able to come back to Boston and have friends here. It’s nice to know things like that.

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