Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Love that Dirty Water

Boston is my home. I take pride in how well I can drive around the mayhem of poor driving, badly marked streets, never-ending detours, and more. I know short cuts. I know alternate routes. I often even know where to park. I know how to predict many stupid Boston driving behaviors. Wielding a baby stroller, however, is now causing me more frequent challenges.

Lyra is going to lose her super chubby cheeks one of these days purely from me wheeling her around incredibly bumpy brick sidewalks, cement paths blasted through with roots, potholes, and more. Her little cheeks jiggle like Jello and she locks eyes with me and holds the sides of the car seat. There are the wide stone stoops to get into the heavy doors closed for air conditioning, and the odd lack of helpful strangers. There are the bulidings that don't have to be handicapped or stroller-friendly with elevators because they are just too old. All of this I can handle. The one that drives me insane is the Longfellow Bridge.

The Longfellow Bridge is a Boston icon of sorts. It is the "salt and pepper bridge" to some, so-called for its tall tower construction. It leads from Kendall Square in Cambridge, less than a mile from my house, over the River Chuck into Boston. You cannot hang out in much open space in Kendall Square or East Cambridge. There are playgrounds, and a tiny green space in front of the old Squirrel Nut candy building, but that's about it. Even the path along the river on the Cambridge side is thin and has a few benches, but doesn't open up to lounging-friendly size until around Cambridgeport. However, the Boston side is where the Esplanade is, Community Boating, kid pools, tree-lined river shore, and more. So, all that's needed is to stroll across the Longfellow Bridge and admire the skyline above the famous dirty water. One side is a thin sidewalk, the other is a nice, double wide sidewalk. Easy, right?

Not with a stroller. On both sides the sidewalk suddenly narrows and has a light pole in the center of it. No Cambridge babies or wheelchairs are allowed into Boston it seems. I have to stroll Lyra alongside that noted stupid Boston traffic in the street for a couple of minutes on the narrow sidewalk side and then haul the whole stroller back onto the sidewalk to cross the street.

Or on the wide sidewalk side it narrows even further. I can walk in traffic with the stroller heading toward cars then through two non-traffic light intersections or carry the stroller and kid down three flights of cement stairs into the Mass Eye and Ear parking lot, try not to be hit by a car there, and then cross the intersections.

Due to the recent bridge accident in Minneapolis, I did learn that this bridge is ill-constructed in other ways and is slated for major rehab, during which I'm sure I won't be able to cross at all, and the work is scheduled for several years from now. Lyra, if she still lives here, will be able to walk across on her own steam by then.

At least there are elevators on most of the Red Line stops now, so I can sneak my Cambridge baby into the city as long as I only admire the river from the subway.



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