Lyrics from Boston

First, let me get this out of the way: we did not go to Fenway Park. The forecast called for rain all weekend, and we’re going to the Phillies game Thursday night – so we decided we’d do Fenway for our visit next year. Now…let’s proceed.

Memorial Day Weekend and we were off to Boston. A road trip to visit my Uncle Bob and my Aunt Joan, two of my favorite people. As we headed out, we initiated a new variation on our “rock block” format.

In the past, each person got to pick 4 songs. Shani would take the request, search for the song on Spotify and play them individually. However, this time the boys created playlists on Spotify and took turns playing 4 songs randomly from their playlists. It worked out well.

Jack’s playlist includes Guns N Roses and rappers with aggressive-sounding names like “Pitbull.” Jack’s first song was “Welcome to the Jungle” and in the back seat he sang:

In the jungle, welcome to the jungle
Bring you to you knees-knees
Ooh! I want a watch you bleed.

Jack growled out the lyrics doing his best Axl Rose voice. I smiled when I looked at him in the rearview mirror, putting on his  warrior face. But as it turned out, Jack’s music choice was appropriate for the weekend.

He’s almost 10, and he’s beginning to slide away from being our sweet little boy. Sometimes we’re still his favorite people in the world to be around, but sometimes we’re not. On a dime, he can change into a pre-teen, constantly annoyed at being burdened by his family cramping his style. There were distinct examples of this behavior over the course of the weekend.

Halfway though the drive he started poking at Alex for taking gymnastics. Jack would declare that gymnastics was for girls and Alex would scream that it was not. Soon Alex was in tears of anger and shame. In spite of knowing he was right, he so looks up to his big brother. Jack’s words hurt him; Jack knew it too.

We spent the next day walking around Boston seeing the memorial for the marathon bombing and checking out the Make Way for Ducklings statue.

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Jack started begging to take the train.

“It’s too far to walk! I’m tired! I don’t want to walk around stupid Boston!”

His whining was loud and intense.

“This is so boring! Why can’t we take the train? I’m tired!”

I eventually cured this problem by beating him senseless with my umbrella.

However for every example of poor behavior, there were also moments of intense sweetness.

Jack did a project on family history this year, so Bob brought out a folder filled with genealogy. Bob had the entire Doran family tree on 16 printouts that Bob had taped end to end. Jack and Bob spread the family tree out over the floor. Side by side they crawled around the carpet together as Bob told stories of different relatives.

Sunday morning, Jack woke up before Alex. He popped out of his sleeping bag and climbed onto the bed. He burrowed his way under the covers between Shani and I.

“Spoons,” he cooed and squirmed tightly against Shani.

The final morning we were there, I sent him and Alex out into the hallway to have a rubber band fight (my uncle lives in a condo). We could hear their bare feet thumping up and down the carpeted hallway. A few minutes later, both boys skulked back in. Jack’s face was red.

“What happened?”

“Some lady came up and yelled at us,” he spat as he began to sob. “Why does she have to be so mean? It’s 10:46 in the morning! I wish a rubber band had hit her in the face.” Then he ran into the bedroom and pressed his face against the window, muttering with humiliation and anger.

Probably not the way Axl Rose would have handled the situation. I think Jack’s career as a badass might need some work.

Then there was Alex’s playlist. In contrast to Jack’s playlist, Alex’s was filled with Katie Perry and Taylor Swift. The explanation for this is simple: girls love Alex.

Alex is unbearably cute. 100th percentile. The girls in his first grade class have literally gotten into fights over which one is going to marry him. When we go to friends’ houses and there is a pre-teen girl, she will immediately snatch Alex up and run away with him to her room like she’s been given a new doll to play with. Grown women lean in to ask him questions and find themselves in long conversations with this articulate, irresistible morsel of a boy.

Last summer on the swim team, Alex was the pet of all the girls on the team. They were constantly playing Katie Perry and Taylor Swift and Alex was right there in the midst.

So Alex’s playlist was filled with sentimental girly songs about first heart breaks and teen love. Alex knows every word.

I think about summer, all the beautiful times
I watched you laughing from the passenger side
And realized I loved you in the fall

Hearing his little voice sing out these songs gets me choked up every single time.

Like his brother, Alex’s songs fit his actions over the weekend.

Alex was sweetness itself. He snuggled with my Aunt Joan as they colored the kids menu at dinner. Alex spent the entire train ride into Boston at Bob’s side hearing everything about how to read the train map and the different parts of the city.

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Watching Alex and Bob together took my breath away a number of times over the weekend.

We go to Boston every year and last year it was for Bill’s funeral. Bill was Bob’s husband and they were together for 40 years. This was our first Boston trip without Bill. It wasn’t sad though, which Bill would have appreciated. We actually had a great time. We had cocktail hour every night, drinking gin and tonics and eating bugles with clam dip. We took the Duck Tour and then walked around Boston. We grabbed lunch at a dark old Boston pub and had creamy creamy delicious-ass chowder.

But still Bill’s absence sat vaguely at the back of our minds. To me it felt like a strange nagging. It was like I had something I meant to tell Bob about, but just couldn’t remember what it was.

At cocktail hour Saturday night, Alex broke out the best lyrics of all. He’d written a song about Bill, “An Important Person”. With a tinny electric piano Shani had picked up at a garage sale, Alex performed his song.

He was a nice man
We loved him and
He lived in Boston
No, not Austin

He was important to me
He was important to we
His name was Bill
He lived near Beacon Hill

He was married to Bob
Loving Bill was his job
His funeral was in May
It was a very sad day

He was important to me
He was important to we
His name was Bill
He lived near Beacon Hill

From the first note, the room turned into a hug waiting to happen. Joan, Shani, Jack, and I seemed to fade into mere background; it was just Alex, Bob, and a hug, irresistible and profound. When Alex lifted his fingers off the plastic keyboard after the final note…

You know in action movies when the door of a plane gets blown open and the passengers all get sucked out of the opening? It was like that. Bob was the open door and Alex came flying across the room into Bob’s arms.

I will admit it is a bit odd that on a blog about baseball our family trip to Boston did not include the following lyrics:

Take me out to the ball game

We will set this right with our Boston trip next year. Instead, I’ll leave with lyrics from a song we sang at Bill’s funeral last year.

Oh, I can’t explain,
It’s surely not his brain
That makes me thrill –
I love him because he’s – I don’t know…
Because he’s just my Bill.

Phillies game Thursday. Full report to follow. Til then…

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2 thoughts on “Lyrics from Boston

  1. Bob Gallagher

    It was a weekend to remember, and your touching and exquisite recounting of it is icing on a cake. Love you, Mike Nuck, XOXOXO Bob

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