August 13th, 2008

Keep Walking

Washington/Rockville Move. Planning phase 1.

As foretold, I'm moving

For those of you that have been out of the loop, I've been offered (and applied for) a new job in the Washington, D.C. area -- all that's left now is to negotiate the details. I am estimating that I will be leaving the Boston area on 1 December 2008. Of course, it could be sooner, or more likely a bit later -- but I needed to establish a time period so I can make travel plans (creation of any new travel plans have been on hold since June when my former roommate moved out, until such a time that I either found a new roommate, or found a new place to live).

Watch out cowfusior, I'm following in your footsteps!

Boston has been a rough move for me from the get-go, as many of you already know. I moved here (voluntarily) on assignment from work to put distance between my abusive ex-lover and myself in 2003. I only knew one person (Peter Kim) who lived in the area prior to moving here, and I really didn't even know him that well back then.

I had never been to the 119, The Alley [Bar] didn't exist yet, and the Ramrod's glorious history and world-wide fame as Boston's premier leather bar were about as dead as the "combat zone" and the "Safari Club". Don't even ask about The [Boston] Eagle!!! I moved here following an apparent "major clean-up" and crack down on anything sexual. Everything had been made politically correct.

Of course, as a naive new resident, I moved to what I knew to be the "gay neighbourhood", the South End. Little did I know that for the price, one would get so little. Unlike New York, the subways shut down too early, and the only place to get a late night bite was "New York Pizza". The trucks full of dirt and rocks from the Big Dig project hit the potholes on Mass Ave in front of my building, causing it to shake throughout the night. The sound was akin to a 1966 Buick full of bricks being dropped from a six storey building onto a metal floor.

Not knowing anyone, and not seeing any active leather club not gay motorbiker scene, I turned to the bear scene -- the only game in town appeared to be the New England Bears. I went to their '"open meeting" and social at the Ramrod. I didn't know anyone there, but I tried to meet people. I was flatly ignored, grunted at or verbally insulted. I was severely let down and the first wave of regret about moving to Boston came upon me.

I was lonely. No, actually I was honestly alone for the first time in my life. No family, no schoolmates, no workmates, no leather club-brothers. I don't remember how many times I cried the first few months. It was needed.

The Boston Bears comes alive!

With the bitter taste of reject still in my mouth, I set out to start The Boston Bears; hopefully to show people how a bear club should operate. To show the community that you get further ahead being social and friendly to people. It started as the "The Boston Area Bears", on 31 March 2003 and was truncated to "The Boston Bears" about two months later.

From 2003 to today, The Boston Bears grew to over 1,250 members. Sure, we've lost some along the way too -- but every living organization goes through membership changes over time. Shortly after The Alley opened, and the Boston Bears declared it as our "hone bar" (hosting barnights twice a month), the New England Bears folded. It was never my intention to have anything to do with the failure of another club, and the details over their demise are still nothing more than rumours... Shortly thereafter, the "Bay State Bears" came on the scene with a roar -- they too have been silent the past 18 months.

After attempting several trips, events and gatherings, I gradually came to the understanding that most people who live in Boston are very self-centred. They will go out of their way for what benefits them or to fulfil a desire they have, but will turn a blind eye to anything that benefits the community (without some sort of return on investment for them). The Boston Bears received recognition from many clubs as some of us attended runs and barnights for clubs such as the Long Island Ravens, the Rochester Rams, the Manchester Bears (UK), the New Hampshire Bears, the Unicorns of Cleveland, Spearhead of Toronto, the Ottawa Knights, the Ottawa Bears, and most recently, the Bears of Toronto! The list goes on and on... Awards and gratitude have been expressed.

Sadly less than 1% of our membership expressed any interest in such events, let alone attending them. The Boston Bears has membership patches for $5 each to display pride in belonging to the organization. Since our incorporation, we've sold only 45 membership patches.

I guess it's just a Boston thing... too bad, because Boston could be a great place to live.

Personal Changes

I started to cope with Boston like Johnny taught me how to cope with everything else: get drunk. Apparently, this is a much more common solution in Boston than anywhere else I've lived, as rather than being shunned; I was finally welcomed into the community after being a drunken fool several times at the pub. I settled into a comfortable living situation when I found a great roommate in Quincy six months after living in the South End. The apartment was small and in a basement and felt like a morgue. My roommate was sober nine years, so I needed to keep my drinking to myself and on the down-low. When I totalled my Virago and cracked a few ribs on Washington Street one evening after 'happy hour', he gave me a warning that he couldn't live around drunken behaviour. I sobered up just in time to move again. Six months after moving in, the owners of the condo were selling it and I needed to look for a place to live. I liked my roommate, so we looked together and found a beautiful condo overlooking Quincy Centre and I've been here ever since.

One thing I can say for sure: Boston changes people. They warn people moving to New York "not to get hard", but it's Boston you need to watch out for! Over the past few years, I've noticed my stress levels increasing and my tolerance decreasing. I'm driving more aggressively and I'm becoming rude and insensitive to others. I guess I'm becoming a Bostonian. I sometimes hear myself speak, and find that I'm sounding more and more like the "American tourist" that I despise so much.

It's not just me! If you google search for "Boston attitude offensive", you'll find about 1,810,000 matching webpages!

I started travelling to remain worldly and well-balanced -- but I keep coming back to Boston where my home is. I've travelled so much this year, that it's already August and I can count the number of weekends I've actually been in Boston on my hands.

It's time for a change, before I become too cynical. (If you are an eagle-eye, you might have noticed that the name of my blog, "Chaz... living in Boston", was changed about three months ago).

My new home?

I've been offered a position in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It's close to Washington, DC. I'd like a commute to work to be easy on a motorcycle or car, and a public transit route into Washington to be just as simple.

After some research, I think my best living location would be walking distance to Shady Grove Metro Station in Rockville, MD. It's only 6.2 miles (by auto) from the station to work. If I have to park at the station, there's a $4.75/day charge, which would add up with some of the travel I do. So, check this map out:

The Red push-pin is the Shady Grove Station. The first ring from there is the ONE mile radius. The second ring is a TWO mile radius. I'd like to be no more than two miles from the station. I am currently researching this area to live in. From the satellite view, it looks very nice!!

Just because I'm moving does not mean I'm abandoning friends I've made in Boston, nor am I abandoning the Boston Bears (although I'll need someone local to take the reins). Once I have an official move date and a new address, I'll update everyone. Of course, once I'm settled in, friends will be welcome to visit!

Why Washington/Maryland? What's there?

- Three competing airports!
- Real leather clubs and real leather bars!
- A real subway that runs late on weekends!
- Dupont Circle dining and shopping!
- The Smithsonian Institution!
- Museums! Maryland Crabcakes! (Yum!)
- Philadelphia is just "up the street"
- NYC is only 230 miles (only 15 more miles than from Boston)
- and much, much, much more!

I know I'll find the Metro Area much more welcoming, friendlier and bigger than Boston! There are loads of organizations and I have D.C., Baltimore and elsewhere to explore! From just memory alone, I know that the active clubs: Spartans M.C., C.O.M.M.A.N.D., M.C., Centaur, M.C., The Baltimore Shipmates and others are in the area! As for events, there's M.A.L. (Mid-Atlantic Leather) and other Centaur events, Baltimore Shipmates' Run, and the infamous alternating labour-day weekend runs: Delta (Delta Brotherhood International) and Olympia (Centaur Run)!

So, overall, I feel this is mostly a good move. Why only mostly? Dave and Mark can't move with me. :-( But, perhaps, in time, I can convince them to! There is farm land in the area! In any case, I'm sure we'll continue to see each other and travel together to events -- perhaps meet up in New York or Washington. Time will tell.