Take It Slow, Bostonian

Filed in College Life by on May 30, 2009 3 Comments

By Allan-Michael Brown

I am a New Yorker, born and raised. I grew up in one of the biggest and fast-paced cities in the world. Although I lived in Boston for the past three years, I still take my hard-faced, fast-paced attitude wherever I go. I’m always in a hurry and on the move. As a pharmacy student, there’s always something to study or a professional skill to enhance by a certain deadline.

Two weeks ago, just as school ended, I decided to enhance my Spanish-speaking skills this summer—a career move that will help me reach Spanish-speaking patients in a pharmacy setting (there’s a huge language barrier between Spanish-speaking patients and pharmacists). I turned to craigslist to meet someone who could help me with my Spanish (despite the recent media-circus regarding the Craigslist Killer). After exchanging a few emails with someone named Jose, and concluding that he wasn’t a sketchy, serial killer rapist, I decided to meet up with him (in a public place) so we could begin some informal and practical Spanish lessons. We decided to meet at Starbucks on Boylston, right across from Lord & Taylor. It was 8 o’clock on a brisk Wednesday evening. I arrived at Starbucks and I sat in a big, comfy reading chair adjacent to the window. I didn’t spot my friend anywhere. After reading the Globe for roughly twenty minutes, I started to get the impression that I was being stood up.

Just as my frustration and impatience urged me to rise from my seat, a voice came from nowhere and said, “Didn’t today just go by so fast?” Those words came from the gentleman sitting next to me. He was bald, wearing a pink shirt, and he was decorated with many bracelets and rings. My inner New Yorker told me to just ignore him—he could have been a sketchy, serial killer rapist, but something in me made me say, “Yeah it did. It was just one of those days I guess.” Then he started talking about his morning, and at that point I definitely wanted to just get up and go. However, once he nonchalantly uttered the words, “my cancer” I couldn’t bring myself to move. After all, I am a health science major and since I had nothing else to do, why not listen to his story? He told me that he too was from New York City and he absolutely hated Boston. He bashed everything about Boston from the transportation system all the way down to the bagels.

When I asked him why he was in Boston (since he complained about it so much), he replied by saying that Boston has the best hospitals for cancer treatments, particularly Dana Farber. This is true; Dana Farber is one of the country’s most-renowned cancer institutes thanks to its long history of cancer research and care. The Dana Farber Cancer Institute rests in the esteemed Longwood Medical Area. The Longwood Medical Area also houses Harvard Medical School and my school, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy along with other, perhaps more noteworthy establishments of the healthcare world. Anyway, the stranger and I continued chatting for two hours more. In that time, I was hit by the cliché that life is too short, and that by doing so much so quickly doesn’t allow one to live it to the fullest. Although the stranger preferred New York City to Boston, he admits that Boston has a quality that makes time seem to slow down. In New York City, he was told he had six months to live and here he is in Boston 3 years later, in remission. He said that having 6 months to live was so short, but 3 years of being alive and well seemed shorter. I was amazed by his story. We shook hands as the baristas closed up Starbucks for the evening. He headed back to his hotel one way and I headed for the T another way. Before I went down those long steps at the  T stop, I glanced back at the Prudential Tower . I remembered someone telling me that Boston is the Walking City, so I thought why not walk home? It wasn’t very far at all.

As I walked, I emailed Jose via my blackberry; he replied that he was sorry for not showing up. He told me that his day was just too crammed and too busy. I told him, “No worries.” We rescheduled and met several days later. We met at that very same coffee shop on Boylston. The stranger who I spoke with wasn’t in sight. Jose and I found a table. With a guilty smirk, he said that we would move quickly and “make up for lost time.” I immediately responded, “There’s no rush. I just want to take it slow and really learn it.”

Prudential Time

Flickr photo courtesy of Alex Pandian

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Comments (3)

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  1. Doesn’t it take up a lot of time to keep your blog so interesting ?

  2. Allegra Leone says:

    This is another well written piece Allan! It’s amazing the people you meet randomly in Starbucks without expecting it. I probably would have just ignored him, gotten up, and left. But, I’m glad you stayed and talked to him and I’m glad you were able to start learning spanish. Great Job Allan on another well – written piece!

  3. allanmb says:

    No, not at all.
    I just enjoy my life and write about it 🙂

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