A young cousin Helen paid me a supreme compliment this past January as I laid out my plans for moving from Aberdeen, Maryland, to Boston, Massachusetts.

She was thrilled to hear that we’d be, for all intents and purposes, neighbors and she described me as “the fun relative.” If there is something to which I have aspired most of my life, it would be status as “the fun relative.”

An Invitation

from home to dinner

Helen offered to help settle me into my East Boston maisonette, so she was aware of my comings and goings. She texted. It was rather last minute, a Thursday, but was I free for dinner on Saturday? Her brother, Calvin, and father, David, would be in town and she was making plans.

“Free” didn’t begin to describe it. The group—now expanded to include David’s friend Teresa, and Helen’s friend Greg—agreed on the restaurant Ward 8 and a reservation was made for six o’clock. I arrived first, rather surprised when they confirmed the reservation under my name. We later figured out that the host had said “Helen” not “Ellen.” Whatever.

The others were close behind.

Talking Over Each Other

East Boston in 1838

So much to catch up on.

How on earth was it that I had settled in East Boston, of all places? There’s a story behind that decision. Was it a big change for Calvin, from being a television journalist in South Dakota to one in Vermont? Oh, the tales about SD governor, Kristi Noem https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristi_Noem. Why was Helen interviewing so many candidates from Vermont for nursing jobs at Boston Deaconess? What was the scoop with my siblings, in particular the ones who had colonized Florida?

Teresa and Greg were tolerant of the very Cutler-centric conversation. I suspect they are used to it.

Expanding the Conversation

East Boston in 1901

The next day I was waiting for the T to take me to a poetry reading in Somerville when David’s brother Gordon called. He’d been sent pics from dinner. Once upon a time we’d been close. My father and their step-father were brothers; we’d known each other since we were tweens.

We chatted until my ride ended and I needed to use the GPS on my phone to find my destination. I called back the next day, Monday, just to make sure we’d covered all essential topics.

Other Branches

Sunday in the neighborhood with Jennifer

Another cousin, Jennifer—a second cousin to be precise–would be in Boston the best part of the coming Sunday. She’d been at a wedding in Annapolis, Maryland, and needed to collect her son, West there. Apparently, there is a bus from Logan Airport to Bangor where her mother lives. Could we do breakfast?

We could do better than that. Logan is a ten-minute drive from the maisonette. A stroll around the neighborhood found us at d’Parma restaurant a few blocks down Sumner by Maverick Square. We were more in the mood for lunch: pasta fageol, chicken marsala, salads, and, of course, a glass of wine. Or two.

I have a new favorite restaurant. If home, moreover, is where much of the family you like most might be found, then “Boston, you’re my home.”