People of the World is a new section for you to share your stories of traveling, the people you meet and the lessons you learn. It is published every Wednesday. To submit your story, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Laura, USA
Laura is a Boston native and graduate of Notre Dame. Her interests include reading. writing, and exploring the world with family and friends.
A few years ago, my friend and I left during the middle of our prep class to grab a drink at the bar of the Omni Parker House. We enjoyed our impromptu class cutting surrounded by the wooden walls and moody lighting. While washing our hands in the bathroom, we remarked on the sensation of being watched and the distinct American Horror Story vibe of the hotel in general.
Then we returned to class and I mentally marked the building as a place near the Boston Common with an easily accessible and free bathroom.
Later that summer, I found myself on a haunted tour of Boston with visiting friends from college. The last time I had gone on any kind of tour of the city and the surrounding area had been nearly a decade before. As a lifelong resident of the state of Massachusetts, I often forget that our state is a center of history. People travel here (on purpose!) to explore the streets that I walk without second thought every day.
We met in the Commons after a daylong jaunt through the North End and Faneuil Hall. The latter of the two rests high on my list of generally avoided areas due to the congestion. However, walking over the cobblestones with my friends, I felt a glimmer of my earlier times in Faneuil—running through with my high school friends in our puffy winter jackets, the way we genuinely laughed at the insulting hats at Dick’s Last Resort, the glitter rolling off the outside carts.
The tour began and the guide walked us through the intersecting pathways of the Commons. I can’t count the amount of times that I have gone running there without every stopping to read the statues or to consider that the Commons had existed long before me. I listened with fascination as the guide regaled us with tales of buried soldiers and the hanging elm that held the swaying bodies of accused witches like Goody Glover.
As the tour neared its close, the Omni Parker came into view.
My skin prickled. The guide confirmed my suspicions. Grabbing my friend’s arm, I exclaimed, “I knew it! Oh my god! Of course, it’s haunted!”
And, just like that, a place I had deemed “hotel with somewhat unsettling bathroom” transformed into something more special—a building with rogue elevators and ghostly figures.
The beauty of friends visiting stems from the fact that you are allowed to explore your city with the eyes’ of a stranger. The North End transforms from “oh yeah, my aunt lives there and often brings us cannolis” to the city’s oldest residential community—brimming with landmarks and mouth watering cuisine.
Oftentimes, I feel like a zombie shocked back to life when I travel through familiar places with my eyes wide open. The city blooms with colors, history, and pulses with excitement. Everything feels fresh and new because there is the opportunity to stop and actually absorb your surroundings without the drudgery of everyday life narrowing your vision.
Such a discovery isn’t novel or groundbreaking but my unknowing frequenting of a haunted bathroom is a memory that I bring to the forefront of my mind whenever I look up from my phone, blink that foggy feeling from my eyes, and realize that I have no idea what passed me by on the way to my destination.
Even the city you live in has a magic that you haven’t seen or traveled yet. You just need to adjust your lenses.