It’s been about a month since I packed up my life into a suitcase (well, the essentials, anyway) and moved away from home.
Boston is almost a new city for me. I dated someone who lived in the area a few years ago, so I did occasionally come to Boston to see him, but I never spent more than about an hour or so in the city before setting off to visit with him in New Hampshire.
Now that I’m here for a year, much of my recent life- aside from going to work and participating in training sessions- has been centered around settling into my new home.
Something that you should know about me is that I love to walk. I’ve been used to walking just about everywhere in Philadelphia, forgoing a subway or bus ride if I could walk to a place within 20 minutes. Some Bostonians that I’ve met insist that their city is walkable; I have to ~politely~ disagree. The street patterns are pretty confounding here, and there aren’t a lot of street signs. I miss the very neat grid street pattern of Center City Philadelphia.
But, to its credit, public transit is a little more developed in Boston than in Philly, in my opinion. I can get around fairly easily on the T and there are usually more than enough options to get me from one place to another. Some friends have shared their MBTA horror stories with me already, so I’m sure my honeymoon phase will end eventually, but for now I’m enjoying the ride (pun totally intended).
Something else I will say is that Boston is really beautiful. I love strolling through Boston Common and the Public Garden, and my favorite part of my morning commute is when the train rises above ground to cross over the Charles River. There’s lots of historical landmarks that I’m hoping to check out, and I plan on making some time when I can to get out of the city and into the woods.
I’ve been taking some free time to sit with my rule of life and think of how I can continue to keep up with it in accordance to my new schedule. There are some aspects- like service and simplicity- that I really need to revisit and analyze what they mean to me (or if they’re even helpful to have noted in my rule), but others that have remained constant. My worship habits, for example, have changed considerably. I work at a small Episcopal church now and I’m “in the office” on Sundays- i.e., being part of the liturgy, which I really enjoy. I have tried to make it a point, however, to take Sunday evenings to attend a different church on my own time.
Lately, I’m sitting with some big questions currently with regard to my vocation so I am trying to make my private prayer time, which is usually in the morning, to be about discernment and being in conversation with God. I haven’t done the best job with it so far admittedly because I like getting into the office early, so I usually resort to doing Morning Prayer on the train. I am, however, making it a point to do Evening Prayer and Compline again (as I’ve fallen out of that habit) and perhaps weaving my personal discernment time with God into those hours.
My study habits have changed a lot as well. Usually after doing Morning Prayer on the train I read for the rest of my commute – it takes about 50 minutes each way. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of introductory material about the Episcopal Church as I’m helping my supervisor plan Confirmation classes for our youth this year, but I’m reading a couple of titles for my own discernment and learning as well. I’m hoping to find a good queer-friendly (or queer led!) Bible study group some time soon so that I can be in conversation with other folks.
My relationship with silence continues to evolve. In the Life Together program, one of our community norms is to encourage each other not to be afraid of silence; to lean in and rest in silence instead of rushing to fill it during a lull in conversation. I’m finding that I appreciate silence a lot more these days- not because my life is ‘noisy’, but because it just feels a lot more restful rather uneasy. I like being able to take time during the day when possible just breathe and practice intentional silence.
Working on Sundays means that Mondays are my days off and hence my Sabbath. I still go to church on Sundays for worship, but Mondays are days for self-care and restoration. I take the day to write, rest, make time-consuming recipes that I wouldn’t otherwise cook during the work week, and check in with myself to see what I need. Am I tired? Am I eating well? Do I want more creative outlets? Since really establishing Monday as a self-care day, I’m able to use the day really well and find myself more refreshed for the week ahead.
I wrote originally in my rule that I desire to “actively cultivate happiness, joy, and mirth in daily life” and I do that, in part, by “recognizing that joy is its own form of resistance against oppression”. I want to write quite a bit more about this in the future, but for now I will say that since moving away from home, I am happier. It wasn’t that I was necessarily unhappy staying in Philadelphia, rather I recognize now that I wasn’t always able to bring my whole, fullest self to certain spaces. Here in Boston – whether its in my intentional community, my larger community of Life Together fellows, or my workplace – I have felt loved, accepted, and celebrated, and that in and of itself is something joyous. I am able to say with power that I am a queer, Latinx femme Christian with something to bring to the table of community, and be met with gratitude and love.
So, Boston, as you can see, is treating me pretty well. I’m thankful for all of the folks who have given this little closet monk their love and affirmation, and have walked with me thus far.