phase transition

I’m done. Slipped my last project under the professor’s door early this morning.

One thing I’ve wanted to do for a while was to walk to Massachusetts — just so I can say that I’ve done it. And it’s just so close, so doable, that I decided that today was the day, taking the route above. It was a pretty good walk. I could have used another hour of daylight, but then I might not have walked with as much hustle through East Providence. My toes hurt now.

I started from North Main Street — Harry’s, to be precise — I went there with mmalin, Will, and Crystal to try their burgers. The burgers are tasty, but everything about the place is so pleasant that you like it better, from the servers to the good interior design. The high bench had a foot bar, in case you didn’t want your feet to dangle. The bathroom is impeccably clean. (the things I care about…) They also have a good selection of beer / cocktails, not to mention very reasonable prices.

The walk up Hope Street was the same as ever, lovely, with big chunks of concrete construction materials and just a bit of dust. It also provided me with hygienic conveniences, saving me from having to duck into Three Sisters, a wonderful ice cream shop (but I really don’t need any ice cream these days).

I’ve actually not walked much past the corner of Hope and Blackstone, that is, from Providence into Pawtucket. I’ve traveled beyond it, to Modern Diner, but that was by bus, and in the early morning. I’ve also walked to Garden Grille with Nick, but that is just barely poking into Pawtucket.

For the first bit of Pawtucket, I was in awe at the quality of the houses’ landscaping. “Pawtucket’s really nice!” I thought. Every lawn was full of lush grass; many garden paths were adorned with trellises; mature trees arched the sidewalks.

And then I got to Shea High School. Usually schools have things like ‘perseverance’ and ‘persistence’ carved over their doors, but Shea had “Insolence” and “Disaster” over theirs. I’m sure there’s a good explanation, but as the light grew dimmer, I thought it was fairly creepy.

After passing that high school, there were no more lush lawns. The Euclidean zoning was clear as day: south of some line was single family housing, and north of that line was multi-unit structures. I never felt unsafe, though, as there were people out and about, mostly walking dogs. [so many cute dogs being walked today! I remind the reader that I like only those dogs that look like furniture (large and fluffy, or at least, cushion-like if small). Maybe smaller dogs don’t need walking.]

Anyway, walked until I hit the river. My map app wasn’t working well and I’d strayed off the path I’d hand drawn, so I ended up crossing the river twice more than necessary. This did give me a chance to walk past Slater Mill, though. I remember the first time I’d been in that area: it was to go to the house of my quintet coach, Charles Sherba. We wouldn’t all fit in one car to go back to campus, so Manny (another chamber musician, and concertmaster at the time?) and I took the bus back.

Anyway, Slater Mill is gorgeous. Pawtucket means “”at the falls in the river”; there were falls and gears and bridges; the Seekonk River is majestic but I think this is because I think rivers are majestic, and bridges, and trees; perhaps I like a bit of manmade structure with my nature.

Then the dark, less-populated bit: I was still vaguely lost and started walking on Central Avenue instead of taking the right and getting on Cottage Street, which was the original plan. There were enough cars driving by or lit parking lots; it was ok. I walked past Oak Grove Cemetery and wished that it had been day so that I could properly detour into it to load my imagination with more names.

But walking next to Oak Grove actually meant I was about to continue on Central Ave., instead of getting onto Cottage as I needed to. The intersection was oblique (not right angles, but more like two V’s), I was detained by Artie, the owner of the Sunoco gas station at one of the narrower sectors. He asked me how mother’s day was, and further pleasant smalltalkish things; it turned out that he thought I was someone he knew from a nearby Chinese restaurant. [I would list off the places he mentioned, but his feature set includes ‘gecko bowls’ and ‘good cocktails’, which makes me think that his recommendations wouldn’t be very meaningful to me] At the end, I begged off, saying that I had a train to catch. He, eh, asked if he could take me out to one of the Chinese restaurants he mentioned, and somehow I wriggled off.

Because, indeed, I did! There were many closer places to hop into Massachusetts, but I figured I might as well take the MBTA back from Attleboro station. A round trip probably would have been unwise.

Minor panic at the station: it first wasn’t clear where the tracks were, and then how you got to them; the raised covered staircase thing had an exit that seemed to let you down onto the outbound (->pvd) tracks, but that was boarded up. And when I finally used my superior (coughsputter) spatial reasoning abilities to get to the right side of the platform, the ticker displayed that all outbound trains were 30-60 minutes delayed. So this is another instance of life giving me bad UX: the ticker displayed the delay message like 3 times as many times as it did the “next train in 9 / 6 / 3 minutes” message.

Anyway, it came, just 4 minutes late; lots of well-dressed beautiful middle-aged people got off, just getting back from work in Boston; I was the only one who got on and I think the conductor just didn’t bother to charge me because I was such an aberration. Went to ABP; apparently Shaun was also on the train (but I disappeared into the restroom after going up the stairs)!

(title: p-chem)

One thought on “phase transition

  1. I walk up to Pawtucket every few weeks and 9 times out of 10, it’s between the hours of 12am and 5am. However, I never considered walking all the way to MA. I guess it would be faster to get to walking east of Providence, but this route seems a lot more pleasant. Maybe I’ll do it in the next couple of weeks!

    Also, jealous of you being done. I still have a test and a final presentation to go! >.<

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