[Note from Meryl: This one--by my friend and co-worker, Moxie--made me tear up a little when I first read it, because I have a lot of very similar memories.
By day, Moxie rights injustices as a criminal defense attorney and by night she can often be found snuggled up with loved ones on the couch. She blogs about sewing, her baby, knitting, her baby, cooking, her baby, and lots of other random stuff (and her baby) at Moxie's Grand Adventure.]
Shhhhhh....don't tell my husband, but for many years I've been harboring a secret love affair.
No need to blush--this love affair is not half as scandalous as it sounds. It is not with a tall, dark, and handsome mystery man, or with any man at all. It just so happens that I'm madly in love with a certain six block stretch of concrete in the heart of the lovely little town in which we live.Here, in the heart of flyover country, we have a precious little length of real estate, the likes of which seems to be more readily found in a Norman Rockwell painting than in reality. But we are lucky enough to have it in real life: Mass Street.
It's a lovely little historical downtown--a wide open street, with large sidewalks, lots of locally owned shops, restaurants, coffeehouses, and pubs, all with plenty of outdoor seating. There's lots of new places to keep it lively and interesting, but it also is the home of a department store that was founded in the 1850's and a hotel that was burned down twice, once before and once during the Civil War. It sports a wonderful mix of the old and the new. And, as if that weren't enough, at the end of the historic downtown, there is abeautiful wide open park with gardens, a pavilion, a playground, and even a shaded baby pool.
It is...... idyllic.
But what I love most about this particular street is that I have so many lovely memories of this particular handful of city blocks.This street holds the brewhouse where I used to gather with a gaggle of my girlfriends on Monday nights for a few pints and lots of gossip. And it was while out on the porch of that brewhouse with that gaggle of girls where I met the man I decided to marry. This street also houses the pizza parlor where he and I had our very first date over slices "as big as your face" while listening to blues and watching a blizzard outside. These sidewalks were where we forged our relationship, one step at a time, as we made our way to dinners, and parties, and evening drinks.This is the street where I befriended my then-boyfriend's children, wandering the sidewalks on those lazy summer afternoons, talking about all manner of silly things while taking a tour of all the shop kitties and stopping for ice cream along the way. A few years later, the day after my boyfriend became my fiance, my best friend and I pounded this same pavement in search of the perfect wedding rings. And in the year after our wedding, these were the restaurants where my husband took his wife out for dinner when nothing at home would satisfy a pregnant woman's cravings for tikka masala and strawberry cheesecake ice cream.Then, while on maternity leave with our little cupcake, we began spending the late Spring afternoons pushing a stroller down this road to the park to play in the grass and watch the trees. This is the street where we shopped for toys we didn't really need just because the toy store was such a paradise for a new baby just beginning to see the colorful world around her. And when fall came around, these were the shops where our little cupcake dressed up like a bee to do sometrick-or-treating for her first Halloween. It was while walking down these sidewalks together before her first Christmas that my little girl saw her very first Christmas lights, much to her hushed amazement.
As a family, we have spent numerous hours standing on the corner of this street, waiting for parades of marching bands, zombies, and evenhorse-drawn carriages with Santa on the back. And (in my younger,more bawdy days) I even posed as an old west style saloon girl and rode down this street a top a float in the St. Patty's day parade. (Which is kind of a big deal around these parts, as everyone on this street seems to suddenly claim their long-lost Irish heritage when March 17th rolls around.) This is also the street where my husband had to rescue me from almost being crushed by a happy-go-lucky mob of revelers who spontaneously paraded down the street after our local college team won the national championship in overtime on an early April evening a few years back.
We have shopped at the Farmer's market in the Spring, seen outdoor movies during the Summer, sipped spiced cider on the porches while enjoying the changing leaves in the Fall, and spent many a weekend shopping and crossing items off our Christmas list in the Winter. This little stretch of downtown is a place in our life that is just as important to our family as our house, our hometowns, and our jobs.
In short, almost every part of my life that I love has, in some way,shape, or form, converged on this one street. And when so much of what I love shares one stretch of road in common, it is no surprise that there is a special place in my heart for that lovely little place called Mass Street.