Public Garden with Boston skyline

Today J and I took the T into Boston to check out the Beacon Hill Art Walk Holiday Show, which featured participants from this year’s Beacon Hill Art Walk. This weekend’s holiday show was housed in the Hill House, a historic firehouse featured in the 1997 MTV reality show “The Real World: Boston” that now houses a nonprofit community center.

A Statehouse on the hill

I never watched “The Real World” when it was set in Boston, but in the early ’90s I did live in Beacon Hill a few blocks away from the Hill House. When I lived in Beacon Hill, my Real World was a juggling act of graduate classes, teaching obligations, a part-time retail job, and the compromises of living with my then-husband in a tiny basement apartment. It was a cramped and harried existence that felt very Real but not very Worldly.

Commonwealth Mall in autumn

Today’s T trip to Boston felt much more relaxing than my days living in Boston. J and I had lunch at the Prudential Center then walked down the Commonwealth Mall (where J once owned a bachelor-pad condo) to the Public Garden, where we cut across to Charles Street. In the course of an afternoon stroll, in other words, J and I revisited the streets and sidewalks where we once lived separately, years before we met.

Pilgrim monument

At the Hill House, J and I chatted with an artist whose work we’d first encountered in June, and we bought several pieces as Christmas presents for ourselves and others. Back when I was a starving grad student living underground in Beacon Hill, I never would have imagined I’d one day live out in the suburbs and could afford to buy gifts at an art show rather than simply window-shopping. The Real World I lived in then seems very far removed from the Real World where I find myself now.

This is my Day Twenty-Three contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.