Today the city of Boston swells by two hundred and fifty thousand. Cobblestones and gas lamps and chowder halls strain under the weight. The impact sends the Charles sloshing. Harvard spats are splattered at the boathouse. Waves roll in on a breezeless day at the end of summer. It's warm out, but there's something crisp and cold lurking in the shade. A few of the leaves - just a few, bashfully - have already curled and turned.
And two hundred and fifty thousand college students sling cumbersome pieces of luggage and brown cardboard boxes and leather satchels and scuffed black shoulder bags that sport vintage indie button pins and denim backpacks and giant sturdy plastic bins with self sealing lids and totes and shoeboxes and garbage bags full of clothing and a laundry basket with a stereo balanced inside it and garment bags and duffels and carryons and rented moving trucks full of secondhand dented furniture and floral couches into dorm singles, doubles, triples, quads, clusters, suites, on-campus apartments, off-campus apartments, Allston houses, Beacon Hill ancien regime closets, Cambridge lofts, and Symphony stop brownstones.
U-Hauls and battered trucks and compacts stuffed to the gills double- and triple-park in little side streets, Allston & Brighton a congested mass of car exhaust, sweat, and new tenants cursing over the color the walls have been painted. Lines of mattress-strapped cars knot every major artery in the city, wind across the river into Cambridge, chokes the North End and the South, fills the tangle of streets to the brim. It looks like an evacuation and a home-coming. Everything a man needs to live is out on the curb - kitchen chairs, battered dressers, rotting couches, glassware, stereo speakers, ceiling fans, floor-length mirrors, gilt-framed photographs of Paris, one leather high heel, an empty keg of Coors Lite, a three-year supply of coriander and other exotic spices, umbrellas, portraits of the moon, bonzai trees, a red rubber ball.
The city bursts at the seams. Real Boston drowns itself in its pint glass and sighs. The New Year begins.