*My first work trip in 2007 was to Boston, Massachusetts. I was still learning basics of event planning and execution but made sure to take advantage of every spare second I had in a new city*
Arrive two hours before domestic flights. Well, I tend to ere on the side of caution when it comes to airports. I would rather be early, grab a coffee and spend time people watching than miss a flight. I called a taxi and departed for Lambert International airport. As I boarded the plane, with only nine other passengers, all I could feel was exhaustion. I was looking forward to a two and half hour flight so I could take a nap…well my nap was interrupted when the plane suddenly lurched forward on the tarmac. Ding, “this is your captain speaking, we are experiencing some technical difficulties and we will have to pull back up to the gate, at which point we will need you to deplane.” So, moaning and groaning in between yawns, the nine of us trudged up the jet bridge and back into the terminal, where we found out we had been rebooked on a later flight… five hours later. It was one of those days where I hated the airport.
Flying into Boston was an…experience. Normally, you take off and land but this flight was… unique. The landing gear went down and we approached the runway, just as I was bracing myself for touchdown, I felt the plane accelerate and thrust upward. We were taking off again. I looked out the window to see the Boston Harbor shrinking below us. Confused faces surrounded me. A few minutes back in the sky, the captain informed us that we were not close enough to the ground, for how far we were down the runway and since he didn’t think we wanted to take a swim in the Atlantic, he wanted to try again. Try again? He said it so nonchalantly, as though he did this all the time. Has this ever happened to you? It was kind of scary. He began his next attempt, it was infinitely more tense in the cabin, we all waited to feel the wheels hit the runway and collectively exhaled, when it did.
I arrived at the hotel just in time for our pre-program meeting. I was overwhelmed and said nothing during that two hour meeting, this was my very first business trip and I kept thinking of that quote, “better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” So, I sat there, quietly.
That evening, I went out to Faneuil Hall for a quick dinner and a glimps of The Old North Church. Walking on the cobblestone pathway I knew I would fall in love with Boston despite the bitter, harsh, sub-zero weather they were having.
The following day there wasn’t any work to do so I headed out to explore the city. Bracing my bundled-up self against the wind, I maneuvered through countless Bostonians, seemingly used to the record low temperatures and blustery winds. With my map safely tucked in my jacket pocket, as not to look too touristy, I made my way to the “T” as they call it. Struggling with the Charlie Card for the subway, the attendant came to my rescue and gave me a ticket to pass through the gates. When the screeching train came to a stop, students, parents, vagabonds, business men and women all poured out. As I stepped into the car, the smell overwhelmed me and made me long for France; I guess the smell of the subway is universal.
Sitting on the plastic seat, staring at the newspapers strewn about on the ground, I began to wonder if I really fit in inBoston. Could anyone tell that I was an out-of-towner? When it came to my stop I emerged into the daylight at the wrought iron gates to the smartest institution in the states: Harvard. I walked in the gates with a speed that communicated to all the other students, professors and passerby’s, that ‘I belong here too.’ Walking the pathways in between the tall, red, smart buildings, I was in awe. I spent time walking the grounds with no particular destination in mind. Just to be there was enough. And, you know, I’ll just say it, I felt smarter.
During my journey around town I kept seeing little white boxes tied up with string. My curiosity was piqued. I stared at the boxes, as their owners hurried past me, with wondering eyes. As the sun began to set on my wonderful day exploring a new city, I made my way back to the hotel. I was almost there when I was lured into a teeny, tiny, pastry shop, Mike’s Pastry.
As I opened the door I was bowled over with the sweet, warm, air bursting out onto the cold Boston sidewalk. My mouth immediately started watering and my eyes took in all of the pastries. I chose two and only caught a glimpse of them as they were whisked away. I watched in awe as the clerk quickly wrapped them up, placed them gently beneath the white cardboard lid, safe inside the box, held tightly closed with the blue and white string. With my very own white pastry box clutched in my gloved fingers, I navigated the busy streets back to the hotel. I sank into my bed and indulged in the sweetest cannoli I had ever tasted (and still, to this day, have never tasted it’s equal). Powder sugared lips and fingers; I knew I had fallen in love with Boston…or at least with Mike.