16/30: A Love Letter to Caffe Nero – Part 1

Dear Caffe Nero,

I moved to Boston without any intention of actually settling here. The first week was spent on a couch 45 minutes north of Boston, the next 2-3 weeks were spent at a work-exchange in Dorchester, and the next two weeks were spent at an AirBnB hostel in Somerville while trying to find an apartment. I picked up two jobs and the prospect of going back to school was becoming more than just a daydream. I would wake up at 5:30a to get ready for my commute to JP Licks where I’d spend the first 7 hours of my day making ice cream cakes. After clocking out at 2pm, I’d run across the street to get a burrito to inhale while running to the Orange Line to head to my second job making sandwiches at Clover in Cambridge from 3:30-9:30.

It’s safe to say that I was working a LOT which didn’t allow for much time for the apartment search. On the days where I was only working one job, I’d search craigslist but everything seemed way too expensive or too far outside of the city. Things started to look extremely bleak, and every evening I spent at that AirBnB I started to question whether or not this city was just trying to kick me out. Maybe Boston just didn’t want me? I’d have these thought while trying to drift to sleep, only to have them interrupted by the sound of the mouse that shared the dorm with me, or the folks in the hall partying until the early hours. Between the constant fear of having my car broken into, the massive accumulation of parking violations, not having the time to look for a space of my own – saying that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement, but I still refused to let Boston push me out.

I decided to splurge and pay for a parking garage for a night near Assembly Square, and I told myself that I’d come back for the car the following day. The fare for one night already put a dent in my budget, but then things at work got out of hand and I ended up leaving the car there for three days. No matter what I did, it just felt like Boston was throwing every punch – I considered moving back to LI but I left for a reason, and I’ve made the mistake of moving back several times. I picked up my car before heading into work, and decided to stop in for a coffee at a shop nearby. I walked into the Caffe Nero near Assembly, I’ve seen these cafes all across town but this was my first time going inside of one.

I ordered a muffin with my coffee and I sat by a window overlooking the parking lot. I looked around at all the books on the walls, and assumed that they were all empty decorations. Even if their pages were blank, they still gave the place a cozy atmosphere and I quickly fell into a daydream about studying for a final here. This was the first time in weeks where I was able to just… breathe. This moment lasted for roughly 60 seconds before I felt my heart begin to race, my chest began to tighten, my skin couldn’t decide if it wanted to sweat or shiver, and every sound turned into a siren. C’mon brain, this is NOT the time for one of these. Before I had the chance to run out to my car, the tears started to flow and there was no stopping them.

I ran into the single-occupancy bathroom and had a panic attack. You know, one of those where you cry so much that you begin panicking about possibly becoming dehydrated. While I sat there trembling in the corner, another patron knocked on the door. In between sobbing and gasping for air, I managed to yell out “just a second!”

At some point, definitely more than a second later, I realized that I left my phone outside on the table but remembered to bring my coffee. I thought about how ridiculous that conversation would be trying to explain how my phone got stolen (it didn’t) while I was sobbing on the bathroom floor of a Caffe Nero before work. My head dropped and I started laughing at myself, or well.. the situation I found myself in. Boston, you were really letting me have it, weren’t ya? I wiped the tears from my face, took a sip of coffee, and told myself that I was going to live here, even if Boston continued to push me out. I picked myself up from the floor, washed my hands, and returned to my seat to thankfully find my phone still sitting there. I went to look at an apartment later that day, and I’m currently writing this note from the living room of that same apartment. If you didn’t know, I’ve been living in Boston for over two years now. Maybe the reason I’m still here is because I’m stubborn as all hell but hey, at least I kept that promise.

Thank you for helping me find a home, Caffe Nero.


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