Derrick's family came up to visit this fall. We drank. We laughed. We made short ribs. Derrick's 2-year-old nephew took a strange and sudden liking to our Wham! "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" record*. It was a good time.
*we did not pay money for said record, I swear. it came with a collection of my mother's records, including but not limited to: over 15 Duran Duran records, Hall & Oates, the Footloose soundtrack, Rick Springfield (!), the "Do They Know It's Christmas" single, Phil Collins, and -- wait for it -- Run DMC. I'm going to wait for you to stop laughing before I continue.
Derrick's sisters are both ridiculously artistic, smart as a whip, and outrageously pretty. Model-pretty. Like, I look into their eyes and I feel compelled to either run out and buy 30 Michael Kors handbags or kill myself because I'll never achieve that level of effortless gorgeousness. These girls can rock a goddamn towel like it's a Zac Posen original. I know. I've seen it. We only have one bathroom. I became intimately acquainted with these girls in towels. I wore eight towels every time I showered. Including one for my face.
Also? They know how to walk in those pretty sky-high heels without looking like a drunken giraffe. I want to ask them for lessons but I'm afraid it's a gene I wasn't born with.
Hey. If it's genetics, Derrick would have that gene.
If I just got him drunk enough...
MOVING ON! MOVING ON!
Anyway, as if rocking tanned skin and gorgeously toned muscles wasn't enough to render me speechless every time I'm around them, both girls own top-of-the-line drool-worthy cameras. One sister in particular has my dream, end-all, beat-all, bucket-list camera. It's beautiful. I want to lick it.
She-of-the-Beautiful-Camera decides there's nothing she'd like better than to spend a day wandering through Boston, beautiful camera in hand.
Oh, hey there, soul mate.
Did I mention she also makes a killer (low-fat) White Russian and can put them away (almost) as neatly as I do? And she also makes her mimosas the same way I do: just enough OJ to tint it orange?
I know. Derrick has some amazing women in his family.
So we headed out to explore this newfound city of mine. And oh, God, the things we stumbled upon while we were out. It was honestly the most randomly serendipitous day I've ever had in my entire life.
We start in Boston Common. Because that's what you do when you take anyone to Boston. It used to be a public execution ground, now it's a park where people take young kids and puppies, what's not to love?
The park is also rife with random statues, fat squirrels, and relatively few rapists. Again: what's not to love?
We're taking pictures, doing touristy things, watching people play fetch or picnic or get engaged and such when we hear a woman who sounds suspiciously like Sue Sylvester start talking to a group of yet-unidentified "Ladies."
We're intrigued. We move closer.
And we stumble upon a full-fledged 10K. Just for women. Well, "just for women" with a few suspicious males. I couldn't tell if they were transgendered folks, spouses that got sucked into running, or breast cancer survivors.
And Sue Sylvester the Announcer? Hilarious. She seriously sounded like a cross between Sue Sylvester and Oprah. Like, YOU GET A BLUE RIBBON and YOU GET A BLUE RIBBON and YOU DON'T GET A BLUE RIBBON BECAUSE NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU NEVER TO WEAR SPANDEX BLENDS IN PUBLIC.
She kept saying "motivational" things like, "Raise your hand if you're a survivor! Raise your hand if you're a winner! Raise your hand if you're a mother! Raise your hand if you're a daughter!"
"Aren't they all daughters?" Derrick asked.
WAY TO KILL THE MOOD WITH YOUR LOGIC, DERRICK.
I mean, they were playing Lady Gaga and everything.
Derrick and I lead the way on an abbreviated version of the Freedom trail, from Faneuil Hall to the North End....
And yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the trip when I walk into a 100-year-old bakery and ask an elderly Italian women if I could take a picture of her rack.
I meant "display case." Really. I didn't even get a picture of her actual rack. Now I wish I would've. At least then I would've been honest.
We make it to Regina Pizzeria, the most famously delicious pizza in Boston. It's delicious. Ungodly delicious. I-can-easily-eat-a-whole-pie-myself delicious. If-you-don't-come-to-Boston-and-eat-this-pizza-you-will-miss-out-on-a-slice-of-heaven-the-world-has-never-known delicious. They plunk that pizza down in front of you and you dive in like a Chilean miner, my friend. So what if you're stuck down there for days? It's Regina Pizzeria. I could live for eighteen years on Regina Pizzeria.
Thanks, blog, for making me crave pizza. Really. Because those mega Sam Adams cravings you sent last week weren't enough. Really. Thanks.
So we're walking home with a belly full of Regina and we stumble upon a massive gathering of people. All marching in the same direction. Bruins game getting out? Maybe. But I'm not seeing a swarm of black-and-gold -- in fact, I'm seeing police cars and -- are those picket signs?
Why yes, Nicki. Yes they are.
"What is this?" Derrick's sister keeps asking.
"It's Occupy Boston," I keep answering. Finally, she says, "Yeah, I got that, but what is it?"
Keep in mind that this is back when the Occupy movement was at its greenest -- no park sweeps, no make-do amplification systems, no impromptu libraries, no major media coverage outside of a few meager Occupy Wall Street articles. Imagine trying to explain a movement who doesn't know how to define itself yet to someone else. These pictures reflect that. This is no unified "WE ARE THE 99%" movement -- this is a bunch of angry people coming together to voice their concerns. Concerns on housing, concerns on war, concerns on unemployment, local concerns, national concerns, a big beautiful melting pot of anger that was impossible to explain.
So I don't. I just repeat, "It's Occupy Boston." And I stare.
I feel a little stirring somewhere -- something like remember when you used to be abreast of every movement, every protest, every riot? Remember when you didn't just know what was going in the lower 48-- you knew every political climate from Nigeria to Taiwan to Burkina Faso to Germany?
Ahh, stop your eye-rolling, readers. I'm not a political soul. I will never try to convince you that your political/religious/ideological beliefs are unsound. You won't change my mind, I won't change yours. But I did used to believe staying informed was one of the greatest weapons a citizen could wield. And this girl who almost majored in International Studies: Conflict Resolution, this Model UN Secretary General, this wide-eyed girl with a belief that she could change the world lost touch with that.
Please don't misunderstand me: this is not a sweeping, glowing appreciation of the Occupy Movement. This is not a plea for y'all to go out and read BBC news 'til your head explodes. This is just a personal understanding, a self-awakening. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
I used to listen to the BBC World Service every morning. I used to care. And I started caring again. Subscribed again to Time (say what you want, I can get through them every week). Started reading online news again. Started reacquainting myself with the world at large.
Because standing and watching that massive flood of people pass you by, you remember why it's important to care -- because humanity is something too vast and varied to be written off with a smile or a shrug. Because next to the outraged protesters and the tragic stories and the heartbreak and the sadness and the anger I saw this:
And this -- whatever this means or represents or does or thinks -- this group of people moving and thinking and fighting about something you may or may not believe in -- this is worth caring about.
Especially when they do it with a sense of humor.