The kids are on spring break, I was invited to give a paper at Harvard's medieval colloquium, my family lives nearby ... So why would we not make a family trip of it?
We arrived Wednesday to a temperature drop of 40 degrees, from DC's too warm 80 to Boston's too cold 40. We met my mom, dad, sister, brother and niece that evening in a restaurant in Porter Square, and had a late night dessert of cinnamon ice cream (it is never too cold for ice cream). The following day my family played at being tourists while I lunched with James Simpson, discussed dissertation projects with four very bright graduate students, and presented my paper on Jewish-Christian neighboring to a lively group of faculty, students and visitors. A vigorous Q&A was followed by an excellent Indian dinner. I even got to meet Nicholas Watson's sons, who look just like him and are incredibly poised and charming for adolescents. I told my own son he needs to hang out with them and learn some poise and charm. He rolled his eyes at me. Tonight we have a dinner reservation for 13 as we go out with all the friends from the area we have stayed close to. It will be fun, and wonderful. We are worn out from walking the Freedom Trail and then meandering many miles besides.
Cambridge will always feel like home in the most profoundly ambivalent way: the place I was born, the place I received my career training, a place that I have always at once loved and felt agitated by. I miss it when away, but returning is reencountering a past that doesn't hold only pleasant memories. And that's why, with my family here, I've been trying to forge some new ones.