Why I’m Breaking Up With You, Boston

(Alice Donovan Rouse/Unsplash)
(Alice Donovan Rouse/Unsplash)

Dear Boston,

By the time you read this, I’ll already be gone.

Not literally. I still live in Quincy. I still work in Dorchester. But emotionally and logistically, I am on my way out the door.

I’ve applied to six graduate programs, none of which are in Massachusetts or even New England. I’ll be moving to one of those cities in August, and starting my studies soon after.

Don’t feel bad about losing me. We had a great run — 18 years! We had some good times, and some bad times, like all partners do.

But in case it’s useful, as you move forward in your future relationships, here are some reasons I’m breaking up with you.

You’re too expensive. I’m no cheapskate, and I’m lucky enough to earn a decent salary. But your cost of living is approaching New York City's and San Francisco's heights. I go to the supermarket and tremble when I swipe my debit card. It’s bananas.

Life expectancy in certain parts of Back Bay is 92, and in some areas of Roxbury, it’s 59.

You lack social skills. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been greeted with a dead-eyed, “Can I help you?” at a store, or had a grocery cashier carry on a conversation with her bagger while ignoring me.

I’m not asking for the 24/7 sometimes-fake niceness that will surround me if I wind up in, say, Nashville. But a little human warmth and eye contact goes a long way. You could work on that.

You are so, so segregated. Racially. Politically. It’s entirely possible here to surround myself with people who look like me, who think and believe like me.

All cities have their bubbles, and their issues, but yours are especially toxic. Life expectancy in certain parts of Back Bay is 92, and in some areas of Roxbury, it’s 59. It makes me tired to see that play out, year after year.

And speaking of tired, another reason I’m leaving? Two words, four letters: The T.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that I’ve been able to live here 18 years without owning a car. But your public transportation system is a daily source of pain and angst. The other day, it took me an hour and a half to go 13 miles by subway and trolley. It wasn’t snowing. There were no special circumstances. That’s just how it is.

Let’s not dwell too long on the negative. After all, I've lived here for nearly two decades and have found people and places to love. The Independent Film Festival Boston alone kept me here for at least five years longer than I should have been.

I like that it’s not considered weird, here, to be a single woman in her 40s without kids who lives alone. I’m sure if I wind up in St. Louis or Cleveland, that will be more of a head-scratcher for people.

So Boston, during the next seven months or so, let’s be kind to each other. Cut me some slack with the train times, and don’t let the bridge collapse when I’m crossing the Charles.

In exchange, I won’t bad-mouth you to my new city, even as I fall in love with it and you fade into memory.

“What’s Boston like?” people will ask me.

And I’ll tell them: “I had a love-hate relationship with Boston for 18 years. Towards the end, it felt like I’d been wearing shoes that didn’t fit right for over a decade.”

Boston, it’s been real. And I’ll always treasure what we shared. But it’s time for me to move on.

Will you do the same? Are you able to change, adapt, become more resilient as the seawaters around us rise?

I hope so. I want the best for both of us.


Headshot of Anya Weber

Anya Weber Cognoscenti contributor
Anya Weber runs the website Curiosity Central, where she writes about topics including relationships, dating and faith.



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