Another visit to Christopher Columbus…
I weaved my way through the streets of the North End, both too hot and too cold at the same time. In front of the Old North Church, a gaggle of tourists waited in line for tickets. A street sweeper came rumbling down the street. From somewhere nearby, the hammering and banging of some sort of construction project rang out. I was approaching Chris’s home from a different angle than I had before, so I had to look closely at the street signs and storefronts to figure out which way to go. Dodging cars, delivery trucks, a US Foods employee maneuvering a two-wheeler stacked with boxes, and several people pushing carts of books down the sidewalk, I knew that I was getting close. And it was about time, too. I had stopped at Revere Beach before going to Boston, and passed through the park, now haunted, where his pitiful empty pedestal still stands, surrounded by people walking to and fro and enjoying their day, oblivious to its significance. Plus, both the orange and blue lines were operating under speed restrictions, meaning that for the majority of my journey, the train crawled painfully along at a snail’s pace.
The hot sun was beating down, punctuated by biting cold wind. This, combined with noise of various sorts, people walking every which way, and the mental overload of having to concentrate simultaneously on avoiding bumping into said people and figuring out which direction to go, almost made me regret making the trip. I felt irritated and annoyed, my brain overloaded.
But then I saw Chris.
Watching over the parking lot from his new pedestal, there he was.
I noticed a couple of changes: he had finally lost the plastic wrap that had been clinging to his torso, and the asphalt expanse around him was divided into parking spaces, complete with pristine new white lines and numbers.
Another change: unlike during my earlier visit, I was not able to be alone with Chris. Just as I got there, an elderly gentleman drove up to the gate, got out of his car to open it, and drove into the parking lot before closing and locking the gate again. Presumably he was one of the residents of the building, which houses both the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus Ausonia Council, as well as apartments for low-income seniors.
Hello, Chris. I’ve braved a lot of things in order to come see you. The train was ridiculously slow, and people are walking in all different directions, and honking their horns, and blocking my way, and driving down the street just as I’m about to cross it, and hammering and banging, and squealing and laughing, and talking really loud on their cell phones, and just overall driving me crazy. It is hot and cold at the same time, and my feet are starting to hurt. But you make it all worthwhile.
I felt self-conscious in front of the old man, figuring he would think me a weirdo for standing there staring at a statue. It was his home, after all, and not mine. I didn’t feel free to spend as much time with Chris as I wanted to. So I stood at the fence for a few moments, and then bid him farewell. I left feeling unsettled, my mind swirling with mixed emotions about the fact that the man I love, the marble figure who holds such profound significance, is essentially owned by a bunch of old people.
Bye, Chris. Sorry this is such a short visit. But I’ll be back.