The other day, a friend of mine from high school and I decided to meet up. He goes to Boston University, I go to Boston College, it wasn't exactly a long, harrowing journey. I left my dorm at roughly four o'clock Saturday. I didn't have to get there until five, but I was playing it safe. There was a mild drizzle in the air, more of a downward-oriented mist than anything else, but it was thin enough to be blocked out with my hoodie. I donned a black track jacket over that in case it got colder.
By the time I reached the friendly neighborhood metro stop, the rain was falling hard enough to be a major annoyance. I couldn't get my umbrella, firstly because it was already 4:30, and secondly because I had a Boston College umbrella (having neglected to bring one from home), which likely would not go over too well at BU. Now, one thing you need to know about the Boston metro system: it's really more of a bus-on-rails. It has to stop for traffic. So it isn't exactly the most efficient public transportation system in the world. And, given that Boston College is at the very end of the line, the trip took a not-insignificant amount of time to complete.
I emerged into - you guessed it - even heavier rain half an hour later, and sprinted across the street to my buddy's dorm. He introduced me to his neighbors, none of whose names I can recall, and showed me to the cafeteria, where I had two cookies and a banana in lieu of lunch (or in lieu of dinner, if your prefer). He then gathered up a decent-sized party of one other guy and five girls - all Indian except for me. One of us was from California, and consequently brought along a ridiculous amount of clothing, and we all mocked her until we went outside and realized that she was probably the smartest among us.
We left soon after and boarded a trolley to North Station, arriving just in time to miss the 6:15 train to Salem. We sat on the benches and waited, judging the costumes of those who walked by. One guy looked very impressive, until I realized that he must have the mohawk and piercings the other 364 days of the year, at which point he just looked silly. None of us were dressed up, unless "person who isn't freezing to death" qualifies as a costume. Eventually, the next train came around - and this was a proper train, mind you - and we had a moderately uneventful half-hour ride.
Now, it turns out that when my friend had suggested going to Salem, he had had no specific activity in mind for us to do upon arriving, assuming only that it was Halloween weekend, and Salem is known for their witch trials, and so something of note must be going on. So, naturally, once we disembarked, we chose a direction and walked in it. The rain was falling even more heavily now, and I was the only one who hadn't brought an umbrella. In retrospect, this was an unwise move on my part. I'd brought along some very nice shoes - they matched my jacket - but, unfortunately, they were composed primarily of mesh, and so every puddle I stepped into went right through to my socks. Every step was a squelch.
We came across a Party Tent rather quickly, but this was obviously some sort of official matter - some company's logo was on a sign outside, and half the people inside were wearing shirts that read Event Staff - and so we passed right by it. At around eight o'clock, we went into a Dunken Donuts - more to get shelter from the storm than to purchase anything - and came across a group of teens, most of whom had apparently decided on the same Halloween costume, namely "Trashy Whore, But With Cat Ears."
We asked them if anything interesting was going on, and learned that they had been on the same train over and were just as lost as we were. We left them and moved on. At one point, we passed the Hawthorne Hotel, which appeared to be a pretty happenin' joint - we neglected to check it out, but I made a note of it in case we missed the last train back to Boston. Eventually, we found a haunted house, which was something, at least, but it was a five-minute attraction and it cost eight dollars, which works out to be roughly fourteen times mosre expensive than a movie, and so we passed that, as well.
The next stop on our wet, hurried, impromptu tour of historic Salem (i.e. walking about randomly through the rain) was a pirate museum. These guys were also ridiculously overpriced, but they were nice enough to give us a map of the town's attractions and pose for pictures (they were dressed as pirates). We all decided to seek out a séance ten minutes away, which appeared to be both moderately priced and sufficiently cool and rad. There was a cornmaze, as well, which was also rad, and even cheaper, but had the disadvantage of being outside, which in that weather was worth negative three billion points.
Along the way to the séance, we came to a small gathering of attractions, which we stopped in, because they had a tent. In one area, they had a wax museum, two haunted houses, and what they referred to as a "Spellcasting Demonstration." We left, because, upon further investigation, we learned that the only thing they were demonstrating was a knowledge of historical claims of spellcraft, which is not very exciting. Apparently, at the end, you got to make a wish on a rock, making a wish on a rock is not worth ten dollars and twenty minutes.
We stopped by a few more shops along the way, including one containing a college student who offered to read our palms for the low, low price of fifty US dollars. We also passed a large building featuring music, dancing, and a line going around the corner. Most of the males in the line were dressed as the Joker, or a pirate, or some other classic staple of the holiday, though you'd see the occasional douche dressed as a teletubby, or some such lovable mascot, to be funny. Most of the females in the crowd were wearing a short skirt, which rather puzzled me. I understand that they were attempting to be attractive, and they would have, had they not looked ridiculous. The rain was coming down in buckets at this point - did they not own pants? Were they under the impression that it's impossible to dress warm and look hot at the same time? Because, I assure you, that is not the case.
At any rate, we eventually trudged to the building to see the séance, quickly discovering that - oh, no! - we needed reservations. We did not have reservations. I guess the spirits are picky about this sort of thing. And so we left. At this point, we were freezing cold, our map was soaking wet, and we were tired and all we wanted was to not be tired and wet and cold. We walked back to the Salem train station, arriving just in time to watch a train leave.
We waited at a train station again. Now, North Station was a pretty nice station - it had warmth, it had bathrooms, it had shops where you can buy coffee or fries or what-have-you. The train station at Salem had none of these things. It was outdoors, for one thing, and the metal roof they provided leaked all over. There were no bathrooms. There were benches, at least, but these benches were covered in water. The eight of us could huddle together for warmth, but umbrellas became infeasible, given the wind and the fact that your hand would be so much warmer in a pocket. My hood was soaked through.
Soon, other people arrived, and they all formed clumps under the metal shelter as well. Most of them wore costumes, and most of them were complaining. "Fuck Halloween," they would say, as if the holiday itself had brought on the rain and the cold. One man - at least, I assumed it was a man - stood away from everyone else, out in the rain by himself. He wore jeans and a field jacket, both soaked, as well as a giant plastic pumpkin over his head. He was not moving. The effect was sufficiently creepy. I turned to point him out to the group at large, and looked back to see that he was closer. Of course, now he saw us looking, and began walking towards us. Slowly, step by step, he came in from the rain and passed right by the others, stopping less than a foot from me, looming over us all.
"Will you pose for a picture with us?" one of us asked. There was a pause, and then he shot us a thumbs-up and we all gathered around him for pictures. So he didn't murder us, after all. Soon the train arrived, and we all pushed ahead of the others to ensure that we got seats. We saw more costumes as they walked by us. A witch, Girl With Knife In Face, a butterfly. One guy was dressed - quite well, I might add - as Han Solo.
"I like your costume," I said.
"I know," he said.
It took me a few seconds to get it.
The train took us back to North Station, at which point we took a bathroom break and waited a bit for a B-Line trolley. Boston College is, again, at the very end of the line, so I bid them adieu at the BU stop and sat back to wait a bit longer. By this point, it was snowing. In October. It is not supposed to snow in October. We're barely a month into fall. That's how shit works. At least give us until November. On the bright side, at least I could see the snow falling past the streetlights. That's always nice.
At Harvard Avenue, a pair of hipsters got on - she a zombie, he The Doctor (who is not named Doctor Who). (Except in the movie). How could I tell they were hipsters? Well, he had southern general facial hair - what is it with hipsters and moustaches, anyway? - and she immediately started complaining. It wasn't the subject of her ire - slutty costumes - that tipped me off; hell, I agreed with most of what she said; it was her tone. It was her wording. She complained about girls nowadays. She mentioned - and critiqued - the music these girls were listening to. She blamed it on mainstream media.
"Last stop!" The driver called.
I looked up. That... that wasn't true. We were at Washington Street. The trolley went to Boston College. It said right on the electronic readout, "Destination: Boston College."
"Last stop," he said again, this time talking specifically to me. I was the only one still on.
I stepped into a few inches of snow. Went right through my socks. Everyone else was going their separate ways. I crossed the street - did I mention that the trolley stops are in the middle of the street? - and followed the rails. I had no idea why the guy stopped there. It couldn't be because of the snow, I reasoned - Boston really ought to be used to snow. I passed by other stops and saw people waiting, and at one point I saw a trolley pass right by me - so they were still running. It was just the one I was on. I wasn't going to pay another two bucks to get on another trolley - I figured I had to be pretty close.
The distance between the Washington Street T stop and Boston College is roughly 1.4 miles. According to Google Maps, the journey should take about 23 minutes on foot. I do not know how long it took me, but if I could, I would devote this next part of the post longer than all the previous bits put together. Every other sentence would be "Also it was really super cold." The other sentences would all start, "As it continued to be really super cold..." There is really no other way for me to portray, via text, how cold it is, given my limited grasp of the literary form. I won't do that, because that would be bad writing, but I would like you to imagine the next few paragraphs in that manner, because that is the only way for you to truly realize how cold it was.
It was really super cold. As it continued to be really super cold, I walked forward. A lot. It was really super cold. I was in a completely unfamiliar city, late at night, wearing wet sneakers over wet socks, and hoping that I eventually found my way back to my room. All I wanted to do was to take my clothes off and put different clothes on. Warmer clothes. Snowflakes would land on my hood and immediately melt, and then the water would bleed through the already-soaked, thin cotton and into my hair. The jacket kept water from the rest of my body, but the cold went right through it. It would chill me to the bone, and then go out the other side, through the flesh and the fabric, leaving an ever-so-slightly-warmer trail in the air where I passed. My feet, themselves in wet socks, would kick up snow behind them, onto my legs. The bottom few inches of my khakis were dark with dirt and moisture, and when they touched my legs I would get a little shock from the cold. I stopped looking both ways before crossing the street. I didn't want to pause any longer than I had to. People were driving slowly, due to the snow; they could see me. The guys in cars can wait for me to pass, the warm bastards.
I knew I was getting closer when I saw a gaggle of laughing, costumed teens. I heard the music first, then someone chanting "Seven Nation Army;" and then I saw one or two, and then whole groups of them. Once they became a common sight, stumbling about on patches of ice, carrying bottles of non-virgin orange juice, I knew I was almost there. When I passed the main gate, I almost stepped on a tiny plastic dagger, dropped by some forgetful pirate - I picked it up, a souvenir of my night. When I got home, I closed my windows, stripped my wet clothes off, and fell right into bed. Easily the best part of the night. Or at least the warmest.