It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Massachusetts… I think it was for Dillon and Liz’s wedding, wasn’t it? That’s sounding right… though I frankly can’t believe that was only six months ago. These last few months have felt like forever, and it was high time that I got back East. The rock was calling, family and friends beckoned, and I hadn’t seen my Grandma in far, far too long…
Ohh man… Okay so bear with me for a moment or two, because I’m gonna tell you a story.
Years ago, I started college in Boston.
Yup. We’re throwing ALLLLLL the way back to 2005, baby!
Anyways, when I started and moved in, I was fortunate enough to find a pretty solid friend group who I began exploring the city with. One of those evenings we decided to go into the North End, and find ourselves an excellent Italian dinner.
As we were wandering around, we came to a small hole in the wall with an older gentleman sitting out front. We’re talking your perfect stereotype of an older Italian grandpa… small, with a cigar, lounging around with a cigar tray and a glass of some kind of bourbon or wine or I don’t know what. We didn’t know yet that hole-in-the-wall places are almost always the best, so we proceeded to walk right on past… until the gentleman called out.
“There’s no room inside. Sorry, all booked”
We looked in… there were one or two patrons, but it was still early in the evening, and the restaurant was far from full.
“I wish we could seat you, but we can’t. Sorry.”
He looked us over… we were stopped, but half-starting to move on past.
“You know what? I like the look of you all. Give me a minute, I’ll talk to the host and see if we can get you a table.”
We looked at each other. We had no idea what to do… We were all fresh-faced Freshmen, and were barely out of our high school cocoons. He came back out.
“I talked to the host, and convinced him to give you a table. Come in! Come in!
That evening, I found the best Chicken Parmesan in the city of Boston. Some people say that, somewhere in the universe, is an ideal version of every object. A perfect chair, the optimal hair tie, and the perfect climbing shoes. I may not have found that single ideal Chicken Parmesan that night, but I haven’t found one better since.
I’ve been back to that restaurant, Cafe Lucia (or Lucia Risorante, I can never quite remember) quite a few times. Work dinner, friend dinners, dates, all of it. It’s never failed to astound, and I’m terrified of the day that something causes them to close their doors.
Thankfully, this visit to Boston saw them still open, and still just as inviting as that evening so many years ago. Dillon and Liz, Daniel and Erin, Clara and Brian, we all met up and enjoyed their amazing fare. We ate, we drank, and we caught up… for which I’m endlessly thankful.
Any time I get sad or lonely out in Oregon, my mind wanders back to that street in the North End… or more accurately, to the smiling faces of friends that I know are always there for me. Even if it’s something as simple as an evening out in the North End to celebrate the end of an amazing week back on the East Coast, visiting friends and family.