Not many places feel like home, to me. And home itself a strange concept -- is it the place you grew up, or where you are currently living? Is it where your family is? Home is what you make of it. I am most comfortable exploring the streets of Hong Kong, or hanging out in Revere Beach. But living in New York, or even driving around suburban Missouri? Not so much. For those other places, I always feel like there's a timestamp, a yearly contract that I have to renew consistently, otherwise it expires. Somehow, they feel alienating, unless you are "fully assimilated" to their unique lifestyles.
Boston is a very contradictory place. It is a famous major American city, yet it feels like a small Northeastern college town, more culturally and regionally aligned with Burlington, VT or Portland, ME. There is this constant feeling that, because of its historic and educational influence, it has this very outsized global footprint, for such a small and usually lowkey population. It's not physically where the "center of global action" is, but you can't help but think that some of the people who live and work there RUN the global action. Somehow, I learned to both like and dislike the town, which can't seem to decide whether it wants to be "big" or "small".
I started to think, maybe the reason I like the place so much is because I have a sense of spatial community there. I have:
Maybe, I have my neighborhood spots because I used to have a reason to explore neighborhoods (when I was in a relationship). I had tried to do something similar in New York, but it never quite worked out. The city was just so LARGE that everything worked based on "tiers of income". Fancy bars come and go, and distinctly divided by class and social group (K-town? Chelsea? What do they really mean? Does it really matter, and are places really that unique there?). Fancy restaurants from "restaurant week" felt like I was just eating in a Disneyland, being "judged" by the servers and waitstaff, and how "good" a meal is was completely based on the price of food. I didn't like Dough, or Doughnut Factory donuts quite as much (and donuts USED to be important to me, before those places turned me off to them). I didn't find a dance studio that I liked, because it was either too high-end, catering to professionals, or I didn't find a good connection to the instructor. And, for Asian food, I mostly just gravitated towards Pho and Ramen places, because well, the regular Chinese places were either always packed with tourists, or it was a very serious "sit down" affair.
Maybe a sense of "neighborhood" I found in Boston comes from its small size ~ there just AREN'T that many choices, so you will automatically find the best places. Or, maybe I didn't spend enough time in New York to find similar hangout spots, or I didn't find a community to share those places with. And, so I wonder if one's sense of belonging to a community is directly tied to how many places in the city you feel comfortable at, outside of your home and place of work. Because the places you go forms your day-to-day universe.
In New York, I had: