I travelled to Codman Square yesterday and then took a short jaunt downhill to Peabody Square. It was a gloomy, chilly day but it did have its bright spot and it did have its ray of sunshine. There's new girl on the Dot. Well, she's new to me.and she's not a girl. She is a young, capable woman. She has lived on Ashmont Hill for a year and a half which still makes her a foreigner by Dorchester standards. She hasn't yet lost the Baltimore accent with which she was born.
Some things take time, but a love for Dorchester can come on like spontaneous combustion. My coffee date confirmed this again and again over the course of our conversation. We went to Flat Black in the Carruth Building. It's a very nice place but it suffers the handicap of closing at 5:00. 5:00? It's not a typo and it's PM. We stayed until 5:10 but I was getting antsy when all the unoccupied chairs were stacked on all the unoccupied tables. I figured we were close to overstaying our welcome.
My companion for the afternoon was the newly minted Dorchesterite who goes by the name Social Butterfly. Yesterday was the first day we saw each other in person. She stepped out of her office easy on the eyes, arrayed in a visual symphony composed of shades of brown and dusky orange. She is as smart as a whip and as chipper as a Ms. Dorchester contestant. The Dot has that effect.
She is an Americorps volunteer full of the enthusiasm and promise of youth. She has brought her energy and expertise to Dorchester. She is not a social worker, though she is working for a charity at the moment. Her tour of duty is up soon. I asked if she intended to stay in Boston once her commitment was over. "You bet," she replied. "I love it here and I especially love Dorchester. There are so many things I like I can't limit myself to a top five-list or even a top- ten. I have a top-fifteen that could easily become a top-twenty or top-thirty."
Social Butterly's matriculated professional specialty is computer media, something I don't understand at all. When I went to school, computer media consisted of punch cards and spools of reel-to-reel tape. Despite the fact we have little in common we got along quite well and intend to meet again. Why? Dorchester binds people together with a cord of common appreciation. As my companion said, "It's not bad here. I don't know what people are talking about when they ask if I've ever gotten mugged." Dorchester breeds a solidarity. When you live in Dorchester, you realize that the rest of the world is populated by rubes who believe whatever they're told. Dorchester promotes critical thinking based on direct observation. That's the scientific method.
Trained to judge based on experience, Dorchesterites can take a person's measure after a half hour's company. I like this Social Butterfly and I believe that, while she may one day fly away elsewhere, she is not just fluttering by for convenience. This is a place where a chrysalis can earn her wings without hibernation. This butterfly will be adding color and intangible weight to Dorchester's civic life without any encumberance. Her wings will lift rather than drag.
We parted company at the foot of Ashmont Hill with a handshake firm with camaraderie. "Drive your motorcycle safely," she told me as I donned my helmet. "You walk safely," I replied. "We're in Ashmont," she said over her shoulder, "This is the safest place in the world."
Always needing to have the last word but with nothing else to add, I said, "Yes."
I wonder what Social Butterfly thought about meeting me?