My father remembers it better than I do. Apparently I had proposed the idea of finding the family a place in Boston early on in my junior year of college, and the day after he gave the ok to begin the search I was in the city setting up visits to potentials properties. The year was 1995, and the South End was on the verge of taking off. (If you want decent real estate investments, go where the gays are. I wanted to be there for other reasons, but I digress…)
On that fall day, it had rained in the morning, but by the time I got all the way from Brandeis into the South End, the sun was out, the air was warm and humid, and the only remnants of the storm were the wet leaves beneath my feet. On a cobblestone driveway, yellow leaves clung like mushroom caps, muddy and veiny and emitting the tell-tale scent of fall – life and decay in one mossy aroma.
My real estate agent was a cute guy with whom I was already illogically smitten, and he brought me along to our first property – a small condo just across the street from the real estate office. As tempting as it would have been to live there in such close proximity to the man who would surely wear my wedding ring one day, I held my enthusiasm in check. Despite the charming wall of exposed brick, and the enchanting way the afternoon sun drifted in through the windows, it was just a tad too tiny.
For our second property, we looked at a large, albeit divided, floor-through deep in the South End. Far from any T station (too far, really) what it lacked in location it made up for in space. The problem was that the space was cut into so many smaller rooms that it felt disjointed and cumbersome, even if it was a steal for all the square footage. The distance to any transportation would prove problematic too, and I was reminded of the most important real estate adage: location, location, location.
The third try was the charm that brought us to Braddock Park. Great location – right between Copley and the South End – decent space (at least for one person, maybe two if they really loved each other) – and a steal considering that in the time that we’ve had it it’s probably tripled in value. That cemented the deal, and before November ended we had closed on the condo. I never tire of reliving those months.
The last time I was in Boston, the conditions mirrored those I just described – the warm, humid air of a fall day where the sun wins out over the season, the leaves collecting between the cobblestones, and the scent of life and death so gloriously entwined that one doesn’t exist without the other. I thought back to the young man who was searching for love as much as he was searching for a home, and I smiled at his determination.