The Shimmering Dusk of Boston


It was around this time of the year when we closed on the condo in Boston, many years ago (1995), and something about the late afternoon light of November still brings me back to the first few nights I spent there. Furnished with nothing but a cot and a radio alarm clock to keep me company, it was a stark start. There weren’t any chairs, so I had to eat standing up at the kitchen counter (if I ate at home at all). The overhead lighting only covered the living room, kitchen and bathroom – the bedroom was dark at night. It sounds too minimalist to have ever been much of a comfort, yet it remains one of my favorite memories.

I’ve said this before, and it holds true: it is the silence and quiet I miss most. There is a different quiet now. All of the furniture and window treatments and accessories add their own noise – and comfort – to the place. Back in the beginning, there was nothing to distract. Not even a bed on which to sleep. And for all the ado made of my supposed affinity for luxury, it was perfectly fine. In fact, it was exactly what I needed. When I think back on the most calm and settled moments of my life, that period easily ranks among them. Even with school and the insanity of an almost-full-time retail job (in the busiest shopping time of the year), I would walk into the emptiness of that condo and feel perfectly content – and hopeful.

It remains a haven, a retreat, a safe place – and after years of furnishing, it now holds treasures of reassurance, corners and hidden shelves of special memories, of people and parties so faded that only a brief snippet of laughter can be recalled, or the way a bouquet of flowers shone in the morning light. When the dusk falls, I’ll make my way into the bedroom, leaving the lights off for a moment, as they were so long ago, and watch as the sun goes down. It is my favorite place of contemplation.

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