FM Imagines: Harvard Square in Four Years

42 CVS locations and a turkey celebrity; what other fixtures will you find in the Square in four years?

Apparently someone decided that your head was next in line for House renovation, because it feels like a construction team jackhammered the inside of your delicate scalp overnight. You roll over on your side and grope at your phone. Jesus, you mutter to yourself, 2:20 p.m.? Rubbing your pounding forehead, you force yourself out of bed and into some clothes. Being the hungover idiot that you are, you’ve overslept and missed lunch at the d-hall. You’re left with one option: head out into Harvard Square.

The sun glares down accusingly at you as you hit the street, forcing you to lower your sunglasses over your eyes. It doesn’t help that the Harvard Turkey’s favorite grain joint is across the street from your dorm; the flashes of the paparazzi's cameras add to the harsh light assaulting your retinas. A bodyguard cracks open the limousine door, and the glamorous fowl himself hops in, ignoring the shouts of “Mr. Turkey!” and “Look this way!” He speeds away, and the crowd slowly disperses. The Harvard Turkey once stopped by a party you were at. It was one of the greatest moments of your life.

The inviting red sign of the Dewolfe St. CVS catches your eye. You do need more toothpaste, but then again, you can always go to the Bow St. location, or the Linden St. one; you could even stop by the grand opening of the Square’s 42nd CVS on Palmer St. You’ve asked, but no one seems to know why they keep opening up new locations. You stopped pushing the issue at number 30.

Looking up, you see you’ve arrived at... well, you’re not entirely sure what to call it. You stuck with Holyoke Center for a while, then switched to Smith Campus Center when that seemed en vogue, but before it was finished, a new family wrote a check and you started to lose track of who owned what or even what the point of the renovation was. The bidding frenzy intensified to the point whereat which the crew only had time to knock down one section before they were repurposed, until eventually the building was in ruins. In the end, Gerald Chan pulled the trigger on buying the entire Square and the constant din of machines finally stopped.

Skirting these ruins, you’re momentarily deafened by the powerful roar of a jumbo jet. When the last capital campaign went south, Drew Faust tried to save face by converting the Yard into an airport for tourists. Yes, they had to knock down all of the buildings in the Yard to construct it, but it provided a convenient excuse to move the campus to Allston, anyway. Plus, the airport had been built with bricks and covered in ivy, so tourists could take photos right in the terminal. Win-win.

“Hey!” A grizzled arm shoots out of the crowd to grab yours. Rotten, sharp fingernails dig into your skin. You try to pull away, but its grip is tight with desperation. “Please!”

The man grabbing you is part of a long line of bedraggled-looking people on the edge of the sidewalk. “I didn’t pack enough food man. If I give you money will you please buy me something?”

“Of course, no worries.” You smile at him. “How long you been waiting?”

His eyes widen. “Two months. But I’m so close, I can almost taste the margs!” Two months wasn’t too bad of a wait at Felipe’s Rooftop. One of your friends from home had visited and spent four-and-a-half months in line, but everyone knows that trying to get inside during Spring Break is foolish. After most of the other buildings had been converted into CVS locations, the Rooftop spun off into its own establishment, and the wait just kept getting longer and longer. Sometimes the queue extended across the Massachusetts state line into New York.

He presses a $20 into your palm. “God bless you. Super Burrito, no beans. Keep the change.” You nod, and hop down the street into Felipe’s proper and slide into the much shorter line. Since the divorce with the Rooftop, it's lost some of its glamor. But luckily the food is still good. Some things never change.