X=WHY: Over plate of pasta, a flash of perspective


When visiting a new city and true local living reveals itself, I find it nothing short of refreshing. But when it happens in a city I’ll call home come September, it’s more like forecasting.

And sometimes, no matter how sunny the forecast, you can find a reason to pack an umbrella.

There we were, my husband and I, slurping pasta off our plates like the moon just hit our eyes. It might’ve been romantic if there were an inch of intimacy involved. You’ve seen walk-in closets with more generosity than this Little Italy restaurant in Boston’s North End.

Quarters were close, elbows were tucked tight, and patrons were eavesdropping. Unintentionally eavesdropping.

The hostess seated the brother and sister right beside us — which translates in Italian to right on top of us — and they got to catching up.

After several months away at college that’s what a brother and sister tend to do. What with her difficult schedule studying optometry, time can get away. She sure hopes she can find work in Connecticut because optometrists can treat glaucoma there. He has a strong post-college lead, but not as strong as his buddy, who just started a civil engineering career, starting at $75,000.

You should now have a clear image of just how closely they had these tables arranged. And just how swell civil engineers have it.

So, big brother casually asks after little sis’s friend, Tara. Whatever happened to her? The dialogue that followed provided quite the culture shock.

Sister: Oh my God, are you friends with her on Facebook?

Brother: No, why?

Little sis put her utensils down and wiped her mouth with a napkin to provide her news proper ceremony. Now, her brother and I were equally invested in knowing whatever happened to Tara.

Sister: She. Had. A baby!

Brother: What?! Isn’t she your age, 25?

Sister: Exactly. I mean, I’ve heard of having kids young, but come on.

Brother: (shaking his head, staring at his plate) Wow. ... Wow.

Don’t get me wrong, I, too, find 25 much too young to add “accomplished breast feeder” to the ol’ resume. But when I was the same age, every last one of my friends had at least one child, some had three. This is probably a good time to remind you I hail from Utah.

Hearing this woman and her brother let out telenovela gasps over this news conjured a mixed reaction. I didn’t know whether to welcome the extreme change of mindset or fear it. Their dismay over 25-year-old Tara and her “legitimate” baby exposed an attitude of professionals in a city that boasts some of the country’s best.

Simply put, Boston ain’t no joke.

Big-city living has appealed to me from elementary years when a poster of the Brooklyn Bridge decorated my bedroom wall. Career and success motivated a college degree and a morning ritual that involved the birth control pill and a sign of the cross for good measure. To live in a city with a skyline that boasted buildings, not mountains, excited me. Still does.

But with that skyline comes competition. The kind that starts the moment you get in a car and brave traffic. I’ve visited Boston twice. Both times the driving and the user-unfriendly navigation of the city have threatened to intimidate the bright lights right out of my eyes.

Survival of the fittest doesn’t just happen in Harvard classrooms or corporate boardrooms. It happens in metered parking spots with squeezes tighter than Aaron Hernandez’s current pinch. The aggressive, go-get-’em girl mind frame is everywhere.

It’s on the streets, where Boston marathon hopefuls jog at all times of the day, their runners physique illustrating hard work and commitment. It’s in apartment searches, which are so brutal tenants contemplate ways to sweeten the pot on applications.

It’s also in a Little Italy restaurant, where one woman shakes her head over a 25-year-old having a baby. And another woman realizes she finally got what she wanted — as equally sweet and scary as that is.

Contact Xazmin Garza at xgarza@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.