Tuesday, October 15 – my alarm went off at 4:55 in the… whatever. The hour between 4 AM and 5 AM is too late to be called “night” but too early yet to qualify for “morning.” Still, reluctantly, we were awake. Becky’s mom insisted that, in order to get to Mike and Nicci’s house by 7 o’clock to babysit Sam while they were at work, she had to leave at 5:30. This, frankly, seemed absurd to me, but sure enough, shortly after packing up and leaving the house at, we hit traffic on MA-3 North. At, like quarter of 6 in the morning. When it was still pitch dark out. What the hell even is wrong with you, Boston.
We fought through it until a bit after 6 o’clock, at which point we merged onto I-93 North. Since there were 3 of us in the car, Becky’s mom was able to hop in the HOV lane, which made things go much faster than they would have were she in the car by herself. It only took us 20 minutes – instead of her usual 45 – to get up to the exit for Cambridge, meaning we arrived at Mike and Nicci’s in plenty of time, at around 6:40. This was fine by me, as the entire drive was a stressful experience, between the traffic and worrying about how well Becky’s mom could see in the dark. I asked – several times – if I could drive, but she insisted it was her thing to do. When we arrived, she told me, flatly, that she can’t see well in the dark. This didn’t make me feel much better about the whole experience, nor about her making that commute before dawn on a regular basis. Both Becky and I really wish she’d at least take the train up from Braintree, but I guess if you didn’t grow up taking trains, it’s hard to get in the habit of doing so.
At any rate, Sam was happy to see us, so much so that he abandoned half of his breakfast in order to start playing with his toys. Mike grabbed a quick bite and was out the door at 7, but Nicci stayed behind for 15 more minutes to try to get him to eat some more. Still, she was going to be late, so eventually she said goodbye to us, and headed off to work herself. Since TV is a no-no without Mom and Dad there, that meant we had plenty of time to play with Sam before we needed to be on our way:
Sam’s a really cute kid, and I suspect he’s genuinely quite bright for his age, too. He was – at the time – too young to be reading, really, but his object retention is excellent. As I went through a favorite book of his all about construction equipment going to bed for the night, he was able to not only tell me the name of each rig (some of which I didn’t know), but also what sound each one made. A couple of times I could have sworn he was reading the words, but I suspect he’d just memorized the pattern. Still, for all of 18 months old, that’s pretty great, I think. I know that Mike and Nicci both really invest a lot of time and effort into giving him a good environment in which to thrive, and, from everything I’ve read about early child development (which, I’ll admit, must dwarf what they’ve read, especially Nicci, given her career), that pretty much means he’ll come out as best as his genes will allow. And he’s got some good genes going for him, too.
We enjoyed playing with Sam for as long as we could, but at some point it was clear that the normal routine was “Sam plays with Grandma in the morning.” Which is just fine, since routines are fundamental to learning processes. Plus, we did have a flight to catch. So, at 8:30, we said goodbye to Sam and Becky’s mom (we’d see both in a bit over 2 months, for Christmas), then made our way, bags in tow, down Broadway toward Kendall Square. We stopped in at the Dunkie’s near Beauty’s for some late breakfast (there were even cops there on break. Oh Boston, never change), then we made our way down toward MIT:
We didn’t have a lot of time to kill, but we had a few moments in which Becky could pop into the Stata Center, for old times’ sake:
It’s funny, the things you miss after being away for a while. Becky doesn’t really miss her old job, per se, but the MIT community. It really was a great environment to be in 5 days a week, all full of drawings on public-access chalk boards:
…and, of course, the famous MIT hacks:
The police car is there as a museum piece celebrating one of the more famous hacks done decades ago, but the origami cranes were new to us. Apparently there’s a lab at MIT that does origami as a means of studying applied surface mathematics (because of course there is), so that might be related to that. Or it’s just pretty.
We arrived at the Kendall/MIT Red Line station at a bit before 9:30. I had some issues with an expired Charlie Ticket (apparently, I had two of them in my wallet, both of which were expired, and I’d picked one each on our journeys to and from the airport), but that was only a minor delay. It was still the tail-end of rush hour, and so it was only a brief wait until we got a train down to Park Street, where we hopped the Green Line out to Government Center. Apparently, while renovating the station in the past years, they unearthed a sign for the old Scollay Under station on the Blue Line platform:
I’m not a huge train geek, but the idea of lost underground stations really appeals to me, for some reason.
We pulled into Airport T Station right at 10 o’clock. A shuttle to the terminal was waiting for us there, though, thanks to the mid-morning rush of air travelers, it was quite busy. Still, we arrived at the Delta section and got our tickets without any issues, then passed through security with less of a wait than we’d experienced at ATL on the way out (fun fact: the TSA checkpoint at Hartsfield is, in fact, 57 varieties of horrible). This got us out to our departing gate at about 20 of 11, just a bit ahead of schedule:
I used the restroom, then went out to get some Sbarro for an early lunch. I know it was all of 2 hours after I’d eaten breakfast, but it was unlikely we’d get another chance to eat until we were back home, and so that would have to do.
Our flight didn’t seem too terribly busy, or at least everyone on it was more of a decent human being than your typical air travelers. We boarded at 11:45, then the plane shoved off at 12:11, slightly ahead of schedule. Of course, that won’t do at all for Logan, and so we sat on the tarmac for 20 more minutes before finally getting our wheels off the ground.
The flight was generally a quiet one, despite the Decaturite family of Overprivileged White People in the row ahead of us. Their kids were acting up during the brain-numbing period during which we sat on the ground, but they more or less calmed down (of their own volition, that is; it’s not like it’s not like good Hippie Crunchie Whole Foods-Shopping Flower Children would ever actually move to discipline their children) during the flight. I read some of a Smithsonian magazine I’d brought along, then more of Reamde on my Kindle.
Our flight managed to avoid the jetstream pushing up the coast, and so we touched down 15 minutes early, at 2:46. By minor miracle, we were at the gate only 7 minutes after that, then Becky and I both bolted off the plane and into the terminal, while our melanin-challenged friends in the row ahead of us still urged their unfortunately-named children to behave like not-children in the tired, flat affect that is so typical of someone trying something that didn’t work the first 500 times, but refuses to do it another way. There but for the grace of Having a Goddamn Clue.
We had put in at Terminal C, and so we had a brief ride on the shuttle tram to the exit:
Hooray for Atlanta!
The good luck we’d had with our train connections the entire journey finally ran out as we just missed a departing MARTA train upon arriving at the Airport Station. We wound up waiting another 10 minutes in the next train to arrive at the platform before it finally made its way north toward downtown. We arrived at Five Points Station at about quarter of 4, then immediately hopped on the Green Line train that just showed up. It would only take us as far as Candler Park Station, but waiting at Candler Park is immensely preferable to waiting at Five Points, in that the chances of getting stabbed by a homeless guy in broad daylight at Candler Park are relatively insignificant, unlike at Five Points. Fortunately, it was only five more minutes there before the next Blue Line train arrived, then took us the rest of the way to Decatur Station. We hoofed it from there out to Paul’s and Meera’s house, where we picked up the car, none the worse for the five days’ wait there. From there, we fought our way through evening rush hour traffic back to our house, finally pulling into the driveway to make it home at quarter of 5.
Whew! What a trip!
We confirmed that everything in the house was as we left it, then we opened up some windows to air out the place, as it had warmed up while we were gone. We unpacked our bags after that, then I started my laundry from the trip, emptied the dishwasher, and then checked my Internets that I’d missed out over the past five days, as Becky headed out to Stone Mountain to pick up Giles. He was, of course, overjoyed to see us and to be home when she returned with him.
By that point we were getting pretty hungry, and so I went out to Zaxby’s to get us some dinner. We ate while watching the Daily Show, then I folded my laundry as we watched the Colbert Report. We put on the end of Game 3 of the ALCS after that (the Sox won), then we watched Jeopardy!, followed by a DS9 from Netflix. When that ended we were quite tired out, and so we went the heck to bed.
All in all it was an excellent trip, and I’m very happy with how it all went. We didn’t have any time to see friends in Boston, but we’d instead caught up with several older friends I hadn’t seen in far too long. We’d also visited some places that are near and dear to both me and to Becky, for which there is no good replacement down here. We had only 5 days to absorb as much of Massachusetts as we could, all while ostensibly going up for a wedding. I think we did a pretty darned good job of it.