Friday, February 6th, 1970 was a clear, cold New England day, typical of the time of year, I would later learn. My mother, my ten year-old sister Sally, and I arrived at Logan Airport and took a taxi to Brookline, where my father, who had been in America since the previous September, had moved from his Cambridge bachelor pad and rented a two-bedroom apartment. The schools were known to be good in Brookline, and the apartment, on Longwood Avenue near Coolidge Corner, was almost immediately opposite the Lawrence School, where Sally would be entering the fifth grade more than halfway through the year.
But on that February afternoon all I knew was that it was extremely cold and yet the sky was unbelievably clear. In my experience, clear sunny skies were associated with heat: blue skies and frigid temperatures did not compute (as the robot would say in Lost in Space, my favorite American television show during our long eighteen-month sojourn in England, waiting for our Green Cards). Only later would I learn that it was precisely when there was no cloud cover that it was the coldest. Until that day, when reading the phrase, “not a cloud in the sky,” I had always assumed that it was an exaggeration; but here I was witnessing for the first time a wide open sky with not a wisp of cloud in it. (Later, in 1973, studying in England for a year, I would find the close grey skies suffocating and long to return to America’s Big Sky, suddenly symbolic of an American openness that I had not appreciated before.)
We had a beautiful view of the Boston skyline from the taxi, and the cabbie cheerfully stepped into the role of a tour guide and host, welcoming immigrants to a new country. I remember him pointing with pride to the Prudential Tower; did he mention Fenway Park, too? I think so, but can’t be sure. What did we know of baseball? Strangely enough, I can’t remember whether or not my father was with us on that cab ride, even though he must have been; we had been separated from him for a year and a half. Perhaps he was sitting uncharacteristically quietly up front with the loquacious driver, waiting to show us the apartment he had picked out for us and hoping that we would approve of it.
We did approve, though we didn’t have much time to look around and get our bearings. Mum would have to start looking for work on the Monday, and Sally and I would have to venture into our respective new schools. The apartment was nearly empty when we arrived, but Dad soon built elegant and serviceable new furniture for it, as he had done every time we moved to a new place. This was to be our family’s last big move. Today, more than forty years later, we are still using some of the furniture that Dad made for our first home in America.