I'm in one of those moods where perfect strangers can get to me.

I was having one of those fangirl conversations a couple of days ago when someone mentioned the neighborhood where Chris Evans has an apartment here in Boston. I knew he had family out in the suburbs and he mentions other local(-ish) spots in interviews sometimes, but I was only vaguely aware he was in the city proper somewhere.

I've no idea whether the information is correct. I'm not the stalking type, and I've really no desire to chase it down. If it is, I've been in the area a lot. Enough that I've a pretty good guess at which building, in fact. So would anyone else who spent a decent amount of time down there. I like the idea that even the hardcore nerds in Boston are so reticently Yankee that Captain America can let on that he lives downtown between movies and nobody bothers him.

Evans is very vocal about liking it here. According to Twitter, he's even enjoying the snow, although that may have something to do with the fact that when he has to return to work, they fly him back out to Los Angeles. 'My favorite season in my favorite place,' and so forth.

I've heard people say things like this my entire life, and I've always assumed it had more to do with the mood of the speaker than their physical location. I get the time thing; I used to be relieved when I looked up and saw Orion back in the sky. Orion, the only constellation I have ever been able to reliably find, was only out during the school year in Arizona, and for most of my life, academia was the one place I felt competent. It vanished below the horizon for most of the summer, the season I spent caught uncomfortably between wanting to be in the house to escape the heat, and wanting to be anywhere else to escape my damn family.

The place, not so much. I've never been much for institutional loyalty. There are a few humans I'd follow to Hell and back, but I didn't feel like part of a cohesive group in grade school, had mainly contempt for efforts to inspire 'school spirit' as a teenager, and used to answer the door with Japanese speed metal blaring in the background and a whacking great physics book in hand to discourage attempts to apply community to me in college. I did not bond with other people at summer rec programs, and up until recently I had a blanket policy of not making friends at work. (I violated it a few times. I was always sorry.) I actively loathe -- note the present tense -- the city I grew up in, and thought the town around my alma mater was picturesque but extremely boring. I did not and do not enjoy spending time with my relatives, and I have had to move so many times as an adult that I've given up thinking of apartments as anything other than places to put down my really heavy possessions while I'm at work.

In short, the superimposition of 'home', as in a literal location where you reside, and 'home', as in a comforting feeling of familiarity and safety, has generally been lost on me. I make the cognitive connection, because I've witnessed other people drawing that line all my life. I've just had to accept it as one of those 'differences between brains' things. I think songs have colors, you think home has warm fuzzy feels. Okay.

But I think I kind of get it now.

Twenty-five years in Arizona were like the longest, shittiest family vacation in recorded history. No matter how long you stay somewhere that's not your home, you always feel like you're shoving all of your stuff under tables and into random corners and behind the closet door, because the shelves aren't arranged quite how you want them. They never will be; you don't have authorization to make those changes, because it's someone else's space. You always end up missing something -- your usual shampoo, a background bird call, some offbeat kind of candy -- not because it's important, but because it's not readily available wherever you've landed, and having to always make do without something you want can force a lot of remarkably petty things to the forefront of your mind.

I was conscious enough of why I hate Phoenix to grumble about perpetually having to move my life out of everyone else's way, as if my existence was some sort of tripping hazard, and to realize that not everyone felt like that all the time. It's just that I was doing all that without any reference to what I was missing. The people around me treated me as if my inability to get along with my environment was my own malfunction. I like to think most of them were short-sighted rather than maliciously self-centered, and that they just didn't understand my unhappiness because they had never been trapped on an alien planet before.

When I first moved to Boston, I passed a lot of time staring out bus windows and wanting to cry for the sheer number of years I spent not being here. I certainly expected to like it better; I expected that, being a much denser city than Phoenix, there would be more casual cultural things going on, and generally better amenities, and that I'd be less restricted in what kind of work I could find, because there was some sort of semi-functional subway system in place. (Complaining about the T is the second greatest local pastime here, right after trash talking professional sports teams from New York. I keep telling people that the only thing worse than public transit is no public transit.) I just didn't expect to genuinely like the place. I didn't expect to sit in a traffic jam down by Kenmore for half an hour and find it comforting to stare at the buildings around me, because only the Fenway looks like the Fenway, and it meant I couldn't be anywhere but Boston.

It did cross my mind that I might just be passionately obsessed with big cities. Then I was in Manhattan for a couple of days, and was unimpressed. Not horrified or overwhelmed, mind you; New York is indubitably interesting, and I would really like to spend more time down there at some point, just generally knocking around the place and being bewildered by the MTA. But it evokes no emotional response, and I have no particular desire to stay there.

I found myself explaining the neighborhood where Chris Evans supposedly lives to Moggie. It is one of the Bostoniest of Bostony spots in the city to be living. If I had successful adult superhero movie money, I'd have an apartment down there, too. The sheer Bostonness of the place is why I'd have an apartment there. It's why I go there anyway, even though eventually I have to leave and come back across the river to feed rats and sleep.

And eventually, I thought: You know, maybe that's why he's there, too. If you're going to cough up for a downtown apartment, there's more than one neighborhood at that same level of expensive unavailability. Evans says he likes it here. Maybe he's not kidding in the same way I'm not kidding.

To say that I'm unaccustomed to strangers sharing my opinions is an understatement. I try not to be embarrassed about having opinions anymore, and I have come to expect that people will be civil about opinions even if they do not share them. I figure respecting that other brains work differently than your own is the minimum qualification for living together in a society. It's still disconcerting to come to the conclusion that I feel as someone else feels, without some sort of direct contact and mirror neurons being involved. My knee-jerk reaction is that that doesn't happen, and I've made some sort of wrong assumption somewhere.

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