I moved to Boston the first week in June. I moved with Matt, who returned safely from Afghanistan in March, early on a Sunday morning. It was hot and muggy, and we were sweating before we began. My brother, Ben, had taken a cab from Manhattan out to Brooklyn to help us load the truck and we ate bagels with cream cheese and drank lukewarm cups of Dunkin' Donuts coffee as we worked. I lifted box after box, and watched as Ben and Matt lugged my bed and dresser down the lopsided stairs of my Park Slope studio—the studio I found in the week after Matt was recalled to the Army, the one too small for a sink in the bathroom, the one overlooking the pear tree newly-blossomed in the back yard.
Matt and I now live in an apartment in Cambridge, close to where he will begin a graduate program at Harvard in the fall. It’s a few blocks from the river in one direction, and from the public library in the other. The apartment has large windows, and lots of light. There’s a view and a fireplace and enough space for both a couch and an armchair. After five years (more or less) in New York City, my appreciation for dining tables and walk-in closets, for multiple rooms and bathroom sinks has grown exponentially. The kitchen counter has enough space for a coffee machine and a dish rack. There are cabinets for all of my pots.
But a new home, for me, isn’t really a home until I’ve baked something—until the kitchen is filled with the smell of butter, flour and eggs. So, last Wednesday, in the humid haze of an almost-rainstormy afternoon, I pulled out my spring-form pan and baked a vanilla cake. I let a bowl of quartered strawberries macerate with a bit of sugar and then reduced the resulting syrup in a tiny pan on the stove. The cake, which was dense and sweet, was layered with the fruit, which I had pulsed in my Cuisinart until they became a bright chunky sauce, and a light frosting whipped with tangy cream cheese. Later, when the sun had set and we could see the church steeples across the Charles from our window, I served it to some old friends. I guess this means that I’m home.