Travel Thursday: Two Queer Bros And A Walk Through Boston

Photo by Yingchou Han on Unsplash

Growing up can do wonders for a sibling relationship. If distance truly makes the heart grow founder, perhaps even the most strained of relationships can mend with a few miles as a buffer. But, of course, a crisp walk through Boston doesn’t hurt either.

Growing up, I wasn’t close to my brother. While we spent the first 14 years of my life sharing a room, until he moved to college, we were internally light-years apart. But in time, that has changed. It’s as if the distance helped us to think, “Oh yeah, you’re my brother. That means something.”

Then last month, I visited Boston and got to see my brother. He had moved to the area a few years ago and currently lives comfortably off Charles River. He’s told me before of the collegiate atmosphere and the experience of living just blocks away from the historic halls of Harvard. Though, that’s not where we decided to meet.

We ended up first exploring the Fenway area. Far be it from me to ever hang out at a ballpark, but there’s more to see and do in the area than just watch baseball. The area is home to academic institutions, artistic hubs, and culinary eateries. Just walking around, there’s an electric feeling of movement, life, and excitement. Perhaps, part of that is a holdover from the athletic atmosphere set up by Fenway Park, but the Bostonian air in general breaths of elation like bubbles waiting to pop. This is especially true at Time Out Market Boston.

Time Out Boston

The Time Out Market chain is a blossoming empire with locations in Lisbon, Miami, New York, and Boston. This isn’t the mall food court of your teenage years, mind you. Time Out Boston is built within an open, industrial space. This gives it the modern and millennial feel tied to tech offices of the era. But despite that, Time Out Boston keeps a friendly neighborhood feel with an assortment of cheap foods presented in a comfortable and relatable way.

While I waited for my brother to join me for dinner, I decided to have a drink or two (definitely two) at the space’s bar. I chose two random cocktails based solely on their names, and who can blame me when drinks have names like “You Sunk My Battleship” (Privateer rum, H by Hine cognac, Quinta do Infantado ruby port, Villa Sandi prosecco, lemon, black tea)?

Upon joining me, my brother and I engulfed some burgers and talked. And I mean earnestly talked. Again, the combination of adulthood and living long distance made our conversation more open and intimate than ever before. For the first time, we discussed dating, jobs, wages, and life in general. There was an openness never experienced before within our relationship. In that spacious room with industrial pillars and dimmed lighting, my brother and I truly saw each other for possibly the first time in our lives.

Image via the Museum of Fine Art

Men And Art

But, the night didn’t end there. And rightfully so. I was only in Boston for two days, after all. I couldn’t just spend 60 mins with my brother and then go on my way. So, we decided to walk around.

Thankfully, the night I visited was just at the cusp of the fall season. While I unfortunately missed the proper time for changing leaves, I also missed the freezing cold of Boston in late fall and unmerciful winter. And I was entirely thankful for that as I zipped my hoodie and stepped out into the night air.

In that start to the walk, our conversation shifted from our personal lives to our romantic ones. Being gay, and my brother being bisexual, you’d think we’d have more in common. It turns out, however, that we have very little similarity in taste.

After talking Marvel and geekdom, we soon found ourselves talking about the men of Game of Thrones. My brother brought up his particular interest in Kit Harrington’s Jon Snow, and I balked at the idea. (Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t kick Harrington out of my bed. But, I wouldn’t wave him over to it either). Instead, I shared my particular interest in Bran Stark’s actor Isaac Hempstead Wright. My brother then shared his own moment of bewilderment.

It was in this phase of discussion that we walked upon the outside of Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. I noted to my brother that I had visited the location earlier in my stay and took a moment to bask in the large building’s design.

The Boston Museum of Fine Art was founded in 1870 and opened to the public in 1876. At the time, the museum was originally built in Copley Square and home to 5,600 works of art. Today, the museum stands on the opposite end of Huntington Avenue and speaks for nearly 500,000 works of art ranging from Egyptian pieces to modern and contemporary works.

Photo by whereslugo on Unsplash

College Life

Eventually, I had to stop staring at the building’s rear entrance (with its giant columns and baby head statues), while imagining how I’d gotten blissfully lost inside. Because, I realized, the night was getting colder and later. It was time to head back.

Telling my brother this, I asked him which direction it was to my hotel. He laughed and said, “the other way.” So, we turned around, ran across the street, and started walking northward along Huntingdon Avenue. During this part of the walk, my brother insisted on the need to be aggressive when crossing the streets of Boston.

“The drivers just don’t care,” he said.

While I certainly saw that Bostonian drivers seemed more assertive in their need to run me over, I was still unconvinced in this being a special trait to the area. After all, driving and traffic suck in most major cities. New York City driving is a disaster the closer you are to the middle, Los Angeles natives are born in, spend most of their lives in, and will eventually die while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Even the streets of Philadelphia, where I hail, get crazy the closer you get to Center City. I feel this “bad traffic” phenomenon is more a subset of packed city living than being any one specific location.

But despite that mentality, I nodded my head as I walked along the street lights. As I did, I started to smell the familiar aroma of pizza in the air. And just as I recognized that scent, I turned my head to see a crowd of teenagers and early 20-somethings laughing away with a pizza box in hand.

One of the students, wearing a Northeastern hoodie, turned the corner and yelled up to a window of the building in front of him. Almost immediately, the second floor window opened halfway and a young man hung his torso outside to greet his friends. The group joked about window boy jumping down for the pizza (and I joked to my brother wishing to see it happen). But alas, the boy never followed through with his joke, and told his friends to meet him inside.

It seems Boston is chuck full of nighttime affairs of fun and humor like explained above. This is especially true thanks to its several many universities. From Northeastern to Boston University to even the ivy-covered Harvard (though, that’s actually in the neighboring city of Cambridge). These several colleges standing in close proximity help to create a young and energetic feel to Boston and the Fenway/Columbus areas.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra

And with academia blossoming in the air, there’s also room for artistry and musicianship. As we walked closer to my final destination, my brother and I luckily walked past the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony Hall.

Earlier that night, I told my brother that I would be going to see an orchestra performance the next day. I was excited, having not seen an orchestra performance in a while. My brother expressed a similar excitement having grown up devoted to music.

Our family is a fairly musical and artistic household. My brother grew up loving music. From playing the flute, piano, and drums, he learned a love of composition. As for me, I’m primarily a writer and playwright. Though, I’m currently learning the bass and getting back into singing.

With that said, there was no way we wouldn’t talk about the Boston Symphony Orchestra as we passed it by. The Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded by Civil War Veteran and businessman Henry Lee Higginson. After the decline of his health led to abandoning his dream of becoming a world-renown pianist, Higginson decided to create a world-renown orchestra. The Boston Symphony Orchestra then gave its inaugural concert on October 22, 1881. Since then, the orchestra has continued to contribute to the global music scene and Boston’s artistic identity.

It helps that Symphony Hall, the building that holds the BSO, is auditorily perfect on the inside. Higginson worked with engineers to create a perfect listening experience in the orchestra hall. And because of that, the space is considered one of the world’s most revered concert halls. I had a little geek moment upon learning that fact.

Image via Fairmont Copley Plaza

Fairmont Copley Plaza

But, my brother and I couldn’t spend our entire night outside that building, so we eventually kept walking. As we walked, we talked about a series of little things. How we’re both bad at keeping up with other people, how we both need to work on self-esteem, how we weren’t close growing up, and how we’d like to change that. A lifetime of conversation was had in quick bursts as we walked along Huntington Avenue.

But eventually, we had reached the end of the road. Both literally and figuratively. At the end of Huntington Avenue stands Copley Square (home to a wonderful Farmer’s Market). And in front of that, is the Fairmont Copley Plaza. The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is a Canadian chain of luxury hotels that runs 75 properties in 24 countries. This includes the famous New York City Plaza and the Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff, Canada.

The Fairmont Copley Plaza is just as luxurious and exquisite as its sister locations. In fact, just a simple walk into the building’s foyer will transport you back to 1940s hotel lobbies. From high ceilings to golden crown molding, plush seating, and a stampede of maids and staff with high-end training. The Fairmont Copley is all about class.

Image via Fairmont Copley Plaza

Part of that may seem intimidating at first, as it did to my brother. We stood inside to escape the growing cold while awaiting his Lyft home. One look at the intricate ceiling work and the giant chandelier had my brother worried about being out of place. That said, I assured him that I’d not received anything but kindness and consideration during my stay there. The staff was helpful after I’d locked myself out of my room and when a friend got locked in an elevator. We were truly guests in the hotel from entrance to exit.

After telling my brother this, we felt the night’s end coming. The winding down of shared time and the start of goodbyes. We hugged, of course, and felt closer than ever in the 14 years that we shared a bedroom.

Boston is a beautiful city at night. It breaths peaceful and quiet energy merged with youthful vibes from collegiate fair. The city of Boston is a lot of things. Historic, academic, and cultural. But to me and my brother, it’s a city where we took a nighttime walk and got to know each other, finally, as human beings.

So thank you to Boston for giving us that treat. And thank you for merely existing.

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