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When We’re Back in Boston: Metropolitan Vignettes

Boston in the midst of dreary December is known to be dark and bitter. Yet, I can’t help but grin.
Boston in the midst of dreary December is known to be dark and bitter. Yet, I can’t help but grin. By Angel Zhang

The latest soundtrack echoing across TikTok and Instagram Reels has been “End of Beginning” by Djo. Accompanied by the lyrics, “And when I'm back in Chicago, I feel it / Another version of me, I was in it,” users compile clips of their home city that demonstrate an authentic, lived-in experience — one only possible for locals to understand. Here is a collection of vignettes that demonstrates what exactly makes The Crimson’s Arts Board feel the pulse of Boston in that special, intangible way.

City of Notions

As I step out of the lively restaurant onto the uneven brick sidewalk, the snow has just begun to fall.

Boston in the midst of dreary December is known to be dark and bitter. Yet, I can’t help but grin as I huddle deeper into my jacket. While perhaps a more sane individual would rush to the T and search for a warm bed, I’m drawn toward the heart of Boston, happy to celebrate one of the season’s first snows.

I wander the narrow streets of Beacon Hill as the wind becomes increasingly bitter, peering into the golden glowing windows of each brick mansion and dreaming of a grand fireplace and library of my own. The streets — empty of souls wise enough to avoid the weather — feel like a remnant of the past. I stop for a moment by a streetlamp, watching the snowflakes glimmer in the low light, and let my mind wander toward my future.

To me, Boston represents these moments of quiet reflection, a place where I can imagine my dreams coming into fruition. When I’m back in Boston for an evening, every wish feels possible, if only for a dazzling moment among the freshly fallen snow.

—Staff writer Hannah E. Gadway can be reached at

Well, I Love That Dirty Water

I didn’t want to stay in Boston for college. Having grown up 15 minutes outside the city, I thought I’d seen all it had to offer. I thought I had seen the city inside and out, having done both the touristy and underground activities many times over. When visitors came from out of town, this included visiting the Boston Tea Party Museum, walking around Harvard, or going to a Red Sox game. On non-visitor weekends, this meant hitting Caffe Graffiti and early mornings at Haymarket, dim sum at China Pearl with dessert at Hing Shing Pastry, or any one of many museums my parents dragged me and my brother to.

I walked onto the Women’s Heavyweight Rowing team my sophomore year at Harvard and quickly realized I had not, in fact, seen it all. The first time I went under the Boston University Bridge I was stunned. Anyone who has ever gone through that bridge headed downstream knows the feeling. A true glimpse of the Boston skyline, as picture-perfect and clear as it comes, often only seen when sitting on the red line quickly whisking over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. I was in awe. The Charles River, as dirty as it may be, has helped me fall back in love with Boston. It has reminded me how beautiful Boston can be and given me a newfound appreciation for the city I grew up around. Getting to go out every morning and see Boston from a unique and rare perspective is a privilege I am glad I have. “I love that dirty water / Boston you’re my home.”

—Gillian H. Selig

The Noise

I feel it when I hear the conversation outside of my window at 1 a.m. on a Thursday night, a group of people laughing over an inside joke. I feel it when I wake up to the angry car horns of commuters on Monday mornings. I feel it when two people are talking about what to make for dinner on the subway, holding on to the same pole and each other. I feel it when the man behind me at the Celtics game is talking about how this is the year, the Celtics are gonna get it this year. The yelling of an excited crowd at a Red Sox game after a big strikeout. The mother teaching her child how to ride a bike on the cobblestone streets, reassuring them gently. The cafe — so busy that the noise becomes white and the paper due that day starts to flow. The conversations, the vibrancy, the noisy streets and hurried people. When I’m back in Boston, I feel it.

—Staff writer Emerson L. Giese can be reached at

Brattle Street

The leaves fall perfectly before me as I walk along the street that holds the power to transport me to another realm. A place where I feel at home and can, for a quiet moment, escape the pressure of my day. Far from the Harvard Yard gates, the soft wind envelops me as the birds sing and bikes hum in the afternoon gleam. It’s autumn in Cambridge, and the sun beams turn the Gutman Library into a magical sight. As I place my books down in my favorite corner, Jane Austen and Gwendolyn Brooks beg me to leave, escaping the words on the page. I admire how the beautiful flowers adorn the window of the Brattle Square Florist, and wonder who the smiling old man is bringing the daisies to. The chocolate aroma flows through the air and lingers as the man walks by L.A. Burdick’s door, weaving a tale of sweet love.

Then somehow, the golden yellow trees entrance me with their whispers and convince me to abandon my novels to follow their path. I imagine walking by the tranquil alleyways and elegant homes that seem to hide secrets of the past within their walls. As I get farther and farther away from the place that's supposed to be my home, I find solace in the warmth of this brick street, which leads me to a wondrous garden that breathes life back into its visitors in the midst of their sorrow. Suddenly, the leaves disappear and I am back in the corner of the library watching the pink sunset painted across the sky, filled with pure happiness as my dreams unfold before me.

If I could write a love letter, I would write a thousand words to this street — where my pulse and the beauty of life meet.

—Staff writer Maria F. Cifuentes can be reached at

A Bloom of Spring

When one pictures Boston, they often think of the quintessential New England autumn: heavy rain, moss-covered shutters of the old Beacon Hill houses, and steaming lattes on cold September days. Many also often think of the Boston winter: harsh, of course, but simple and clear. The John Harvard statue sleeps quietly under a thick blanket of snow.

I, too, in my almost two years of living in the northern city, remember my favorite time in Boston very clearly. In the first two weeks of May — before school is let out for the summer — Cambridge transforms into the bloom of spring. Daisies peer out from planters. White flowers dot the bushes along the Barker Center. The sweet fragrance of rosemary wafts across the tables in the Carpenter Center’s rooftop garden.

Stylish people smoke cigarettes, dogs run through the Yard, and the iced coffees look at home once again as they dot the steps of Widener Library. Eden never lasts, though. As soon as Boston blossoms into spring, the semester ends. The papers have been written. The exams have been taken. And many depart the city — leaving the flowers and the breeze and the rosemary behind.

—Staff writer Thomas A. Ferro can be reached at

The Boston Anything-But-Common

Central Park is, like, not even that good, guys. Have you ever been to the one, the only Boston Common? Fun fact: it’s the oldest public park in the country — founded in 1634. And it’s so, so awesome.

There are a few things a park needs to be a proper park. It has to be green. Check. It has to have ducks. Check. It needs an at least fairly pretty body of water. Check. So far, Boston Common is killing it. And, just like with many city parks, the duality of grass and skyscrapers serves the Common beautifully — with towering buildings providing the perfect backdrop to an evening date or a daytime skate on Frog Pond.

Boston has one of the most distinct feelings of any American city; many call it the most European city in the U.S., and it’s certainly one of the oldest ones. With streets that don’t make sense, districts that go back centuries, and a subway system that’s trying its best not to fail, Bostonians have a lot that makes them stand out, if not be proud. And, at the center of it all, at the very heart of the city, is the Boston Common — carrying the true spirit of the town.

—Staff writer Alessandro M. M. Drake can be reached at

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