Metro, Featured Column

Seeing the City Through a Different Set of Eyes

The world of our likes and dislikes is like a small, gleaming bubble. We live encapsulated in our own bubbles, but we can see through the clear, soapy walls enough to understand that everyone has a bubble of their own. Inside your respective bubble lies the web of your favorite restaurants, your ideal study areas, the places where you might go to relax when you get a fleeting moment, a carefully curated list that you build and edit over time. If you feel particularly adventurous, or if you have a friend who encourages you to try something new, leaving your bubble behind for a time is quite possible—even beneficial. This tiny adventure might add another place to your list, and it might form a link between the web in your bubble, and that of another person. And—from the way that I understand it—leaving your own habits behind and appreciating those of another person is just how you build any relationship.

But when you look at the situation in reverse—having to explain your web of favorites to others and effectively draw them into your bubble—the experience can seem a little more frightening. You get so used to seeing the world through your eyes, that remembering that others see it completely differently, through the walls of a different bubble, can come as an surprise at times.

Even the most self-assured and secure among us must feel their palms starting to sweat at the thought of excitedly stuttering through a description of your favorite restaurant, which is a tricky feat in and of itself because you have to sell the place without building it up too much—just in case they end up hating it. Especially if the person that you’re aiming to draw in is someone that you hope to impress, and someone that you love.

For some, this nervousness might surface exclusively when they find themselves embarking on a potential romance or friendship, or even when trying to impress someone in their professional field. The nervousness might even emerge around family members, especially if you hope to impress your parents of one of the parental figures in your life. Even if you are quite comfortable around them, there is probably a small part of you that yearns for the approval that comes with someone loving a restaurant just as much as your do and trusting you as an arbiter of good taste and advice.

But when my younger brother came up to visit Boston last weekend, voyaging into the city on a Model Congress trip, I was shocked to find the nervous-palm-sweaty feeling arise when I began thinking of places where we could meet for dinner. The feeling was subtle, but it was there, and it was shocking to realize that my own brother was making me nervous. And of course, realizing that I was nervous made me even more nervous.

This makes sense in a way. No matter if they are older and younger, for the most part we want our siblings to like us, to think we are cool. If they are older, we might want to be included in their secret, grown-up world, and if they are younger we eventually want to be the ones they turn to for advice.

So, in a desperate rush for sibling approval, I ran through the web of restaurants in my bubble of likes, crossing them off one by one. This one was too far—we had to stay close to his downtown hotel so that he could get back in time for his evening ‘briefing’—and this one would be much too crowded on a Friday night. But what about Dig In? Was it too trendy? Would he think I was excessively lame if I brought him to a restaurant that mainly serves fancy vegetables? Even Eataly, a place that I had previously seen as sure to dazzle anyone who walked through the doors, was no longer safe after someone told me that they hated it after a recent visit.

The week flew by and Friday was here before I even realized that Wednesday and Thursday had happened. More excited than nervous at this point, I rushed to the lobby of a downtown hotel come dinner time, and stood in the lobby among a crowd of lanky high schoolers who, for the most part, looked as awkward in their formalwear as I felt standing among them in jeans. I dragged him to Dig In for dinner and Eataly for dessert, figuring that if he hated one, I would have the other one to redeem me so that I would only be kind of lame, not fully lame.

But guess what? He liked both.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor

March 2, 2017