Oh wow I’ve lived in Boston for one year!

Exactly one year ago, on the day of the first monstrous blizzard of 2015, I moved to Boston. When I meet new people, I often tell them this icebreaker (ha!) because they immediately get it.

“Oh man, that’s horrible,” they’ll say. “What a welcome to Boston! At least you got the worst out of the way.”

Except I didn’t. It started snowing the second I stepped off the bus from New York City and didn’t stop until April (really). I spent the first two months here learning how to shovel myself out because I felt buried alive, not only by the snow, but also by being lonely in a city where I didn’t know anyone. I spent even longer staring out a window where I could only see white. The outside world was shapeless. I didn’t know the difference.

Blizzard 2015

Like the snow, the buried-alive feeling didn’t last. I learned to avoid stepping on the cracks in the the uneven brick sidewalks just like I learned not to say I thought Tom Brady cheated (I know he didn’t, okay). I learned, not so much how to make friends, but how to be a better listener, and how to pay more attention to the things the new people I met cared about. I learned to be more outgoing than I felt, and, if all else failed, I told the story of the first day I moved in because there’s nothing that brings Bostonians (or humans) together more than commiserating over the weather.

There wasn’t a definitive moment when Boston started to feel like home. It happened sometime after the city thawed. It might’ve been when, to pass the time, I walked dozens of miles in one day, when I hugged strangers’ dogs at the big pond near my house or when I watched seven Sox games at Fenway. It might’ve happened when I gave directions to tourists, or when I realized that it’s incredibly unusual, if not impossible, to “pahk ya cah in Hahvahd yahd.” It might’ve happened when I played chess with a stranger, when I wrote and published stories about people in my new city, or when I felt homesick because I realized that my “home,” as much as I liked it, was far from most of the people I loved.

My heart is still scattered all over the country. That hasn’t gotten easier. But I do know that, unlike in other places I’ve lived, I’m not counting down the days until I get to leave. I fell in love this past year—in more ways than one.

It’s not going to snow today. It’s supposed to be brilliantly sunny with temperatures in the upper ’40s. I think Boston might be giving me a delayed “warm welcome” to make up for the greeting I got last year.

But, even if another monstrous blizzard comes and catches me off guard, I can dig my way out. This time, I won’t be buried alive. I know the way home.

I’m already there.