by Louisa Reynolds | 2014/15 IWMF Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow
September 22, 2014
The ancient Mayans believed that time flows in a circle. There’s a beginning and an end to things but there’s always renewal at the end of the cycle. And as I begin this new chapter in my life I often experience this sense of circularity.
My tale of two cities begins in Boston, the city where I was born, in 1981. That’s Boston, Lincolnshire, though, not Massachusetts. Despite its rich history, even the Brits are barely aware of its existence and whenever I need to show my passport, people will often exclaim excitedly: “Wow, you were born in America!” and I’m forced to clarify that the Boston where I was born is a town on the east coast of England.
Boston, Lincolnshire, is quiet, somewhat picturesque town with the tallest operating windmill in England and a parish church known as The Stump, where people use “duck” as a term of endearment and nothing much ever happens. Locals are fond of eating pork pies and it’s perhaps because of this that Boston now has the dubious honor of being the town with the highest percentage of clinically obese adults in the UK.
History books will tell you that back in the 17th century it was a hotbed of religious dissent where many of the pilgrims who emigrated to New England in the Mayflower, came from. I reckon the real reason why they emigrated was simply the fact that there’s not much to do in Boston.
A number of years ago, when my cousin Marie took a sabbatical year and went travelling in Africa, the fact that a local should venture into such remote and far away lands was deemed to be unusual enough to warrant the publication of an article in the Boston Herald.
And I remember my father once saying that when he moved away from Boston, one of his aunts told him: “In Boston there’s only one way and that’s the way out”.
Boston, Lincolnshire, is exactly 3,239 miles away from Boston Massachusetts, as I found out in August this year as I stood outside one of the local pubs The Spirit of Endeavor, while my mom took a photo of me next to a signpost indicating the distance between the two Bostons. I smiled for the camera, pointed in the direction of Boston Massachusetts and hoped it wouldn’t begin to rain, contrary to what the dark clouds presaged. If there’s one thing that the two Bostons do have in common, it’s the weather.
My life began in Boston and this new chapter also begins in Boston. However, my Boston’s skyline with its Stump and its quaint windmill couldn’t be more different from the skyline with rising skyscrapers that I gazed at a few days ago as I strolled along Memorial Drive, soaking up the last few days of warmth and sunshine before the fall. My tale of two cities has only just started and I’m giddy with excitement.