Still, I sat on the bus's nice seats, with a heavy shoulder bag full of my own purchases from The Strand looking down my prominent nose at their Macy's bags. Because I wasn't using my time in New York just to go shopping. No, not me. I went to The Strand, yes. I bought a pile of books there, yes. But we spent most of our day in New York walking around, relaxing, eating, and listening to bands play in Washington Square Park. We were above mere consumerism then. Sure.
Bracketing the truth of that claim, I don't understand what happened to make our week in Boston with our daughter turn into a hunt for good deals on books, notebooks, and fancy art-pens.
My wife and I lived in Boston from 2001-2003, in our first apartment together, when we were very very young. It's a special place to us. We'd been looking forward to the trip this summer, to showing Charlotte where we lived in North Quincy, where Mommy went to school at Harvard, and where Daddy used to walk on the beach between study-sprees in graduate school. We wanted her to see the T, the Public Gardens, Boston Common, Quincy Market, South Station.
At first, I started to write the information for museums and other "cultural" information in the notebook we were using for planning and directions and train schedules. But, dang, $22 for admission to the Museum of Fine Arts? Nah, we thought. We don't have a lot of money, and it's not like Charlotte would tolerate a quiet museum very well (to say nothing of how said museum might tolerate her). We'll find...something else to do, we agreed.
But that something else turned into a relentless crawl across Boston's and Cambridge's bookstores for deals on books we wanted, as well as unheard-of tomes full of enjoyment and/or information. While we didn't subject our active little daughter to museums or lectures, we spent hours upon hours in bookstores, at least half of which didn't have air conditioning. Anything for a new stash of late summer and early fall reading!
Three years ago, in Boston, we bought so many books that we had to mail them home at the post office near South Station. Then we went to New York on the early Acela. After a day of bookstores and hunting for a Manhattan Portage bag in Manhattan, we hit our hotel, exhausted. What got us out of the room again, for an evening on the town? Reading about the Barnes and Noble that boasted being the largest bookstore in the world (it was a disappointment) in our guidebook, which we bought in Boston.