Boston conjures up so many thoughts as to its history, architecture, sports teams, and more. When I think of Bean Town, I have memories of a different sort. There came a time when my parents went to Europe and left me alone with my younger sister. Big mistake. The house became party central. We didn't drink or do drugs. Instead, we hosted all night games of dictionary, charades, and Broadway musicals. There were people staying in the basement and wall-to-wall bodies sleeping everywhere else. We had lasagna for thirty people one night. In the midst of this mayhem, I suggested to my friend Joanne that we go to Boston for a few days. The last thing my dad said to me was "Don't use the car for anything other than going to and from work." So we packed up dad's old Skylark, filled up the tank with Jo's father's credit card and split. I quit my job, left my sister with a houseful, and disappeared with Jo. Responsibility was not my strong suit.
We arrived in Boston with no place to stay, and a pitiful amount of money. So, being resourceful, we found what was listed as a "hostel." We hung out in Boston Commons for the day, walked to whatever sights we could see on foot then headed for the hostel. We signed in at a building which was an abandoned school. Men were in the gym, women in the cafeteria. There were army cots placed close together on the floor. As that night's guests strolled in, we realized this was some kind of homeless shelter. We were surrounded by society's rejects which didn't bother us so much as the smell. We slept fitfully, while women coughed and farted incessantly. The woman to my left snored so badly I thought she would suck the paint off the walls. What were two innocent girls from the 'burbs doing here? The next morning we decided to find another place to stay. We did historical Boston that day. If you've ever done the walking tour of Boston, you know what exhausted is. It had to be 100 degrees in the shade that day. We were hot and sweaty and didn't have a place to shower, so we went to the movies and washed our hair in the public bathroom. Yes, we certainly did, right in the one pictured above. No one even gave us a second look. As evening fell, we looked in the phone book for another hostel. The Women's Center caught our eye, and that's where we headed. Visions of plump beds and pink curtains danced in our heads. Surely this was the place to go.
The house we tentatively approached did not look welcoming. It appeared haunted, deserted and closed. Intrepid adventurers that we were, we knocked anyway. The house had a stairway with windows. Slowly a woman in a long white dress descended with candle in hand. This was straight out of a horror movie! I looked at Jo questioningly. Whoops, too late. The door opened. Jo asked if this was the Women's Center. It was. We entered. The woman told us her name was Eugenia, and she explained the electricity was out. Well, turned off, actually. We followed her up the stairs as she informed us that we could stay with her or the French-Canadian lesbians on the third floor. Lesbians? Well, we weren't into that, so we went with our hostess. She took us to the second floor. Eerie candlelight filled the space. It was a large room with dirty mattresses on the floor. Jo and I selected our spots for the night—another night sleeping fitfully. We sighed in resignation. Eugenia started hacking and wheezing. She was sick. I only hoped it wasn't the plague!
Suddenly, there was a loud, shattering noise, and there was a brick on my mattress. We stood there in stunned silence. Eugenia giggled and informed us it was only her pimp. He was upset because she was testifying against him in a criminal case. Oh good, that made us feel better. I switched mattresses away from the window and kept one eye open for the duration of the night. The next day, we went out and bought Eugenia some meds. Big, bad Boston had thrown us for a loop. We were beating a path to go somewhere we could get a good night's sleep. We left for Cape Cod that day to sleep on the beach. We spent our last night in the car at a beach. Like Dorothy before us, we learned there is no place like home.