I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can read the first entry here. The following details my journey on Friday 12/1.
Driving back through Vermont toward Boston was a “magical” experience once again (great views, easy driving). Driving through Boston, however, was a different kind of magical.
I know I’ve been told DON’T GET A CAR IN BOSTON, but with all the traveling I needed to do for speaking engagements, it was a requirement for this trip.
I had a mix of awe and jolts of fear entering the city. For someone who’s already anxiety-prone with driving, I was testing my limits–because not only were the roads busy (I was warned about the traffic), but my GPS seemed to go haywire (“turn right, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE LEFT LANE OF THE TURN RIGHT [too late], now SHARP LEFT, make sure you’re in the middle lane”…). With the constant curves and tunnels (my GPS lost signal, of course), it was tough to make the drive mistake-free. So a big mantra of this trip has become “Just take one thing at a time.”
I repeated this to myself a lot on this drive.
After stopping to grab the keys from my Airbnb host at Harvard Medical School, I drove to Dorchester to the apartment complex where I would be staying. With a ride up the rickety elevator that took a full 10 seconds to open its doors once reaching the correct floor, I found the right apartment and entered a dark, dank living room with one black couch and a few boxes in the opposite corner. I walked toward the private room I was staying in (the two roommates in the apartment itself were the Airbnb hosts), and was surprised to find no lock for the door to my private room, and no toilet paper or towels (every Airbnb I went to before had at least those amenities). This was roughing it just a bit, but for $200 for 6 nights and the T rail within walking distance, this was a DEAL.
The private room was PERFECT. Firm mattress (my style), beautiful window light, and a large desk.
It wasn’t long after I settled in that I had to change clothes and to meet up with the Lane 9 Project (a community of active ladies and activists speaking out about women’s health, nutrition, fertility, and running–be sure to check them out!) at Legal Seafoods downtown. That meant I had yet another obstacle to overcome: figuring out the T rail.
After a short walk down the road, looking quizzically at a large structure with stairs going up rather than down (I thought I would go below the ground for the subway/T), I made my best guess and went up the stairs to find a ticket machine (Charlie cards, they’re called). I purchased a 7-day ticket, pushed it into the machine to allow me to enter the platform, and tried to walk through, expecting the card to shoot out the other end or something. But the gate wasn’t opening.
“You have to GRAB your ticket!”
A young woman behind me said this, and I had to laugh. I backed up, and pulled the ticket out of the machine, which automatically opened the gate before me.
It was clear I needed help, and this woman offered it.
“I was new here at one time, too,” she said, smiling. After directing me to the right train, I deeply analyzed the different stops, found the one I needed for Legal Seafoods, and upon exiting the T, found myself right smack dab in the middle of the city.
The adventure didn’t stop there. I found out (a bit too late) that there are multiple Legal Seafoods restaurants (the Lane 9 Project women had the address of the RIGHT one in our emails—whoops), and I had to walk-slash-run to the other one, which was luckily less than a mile away.
Three women of the Lane 9 Project were at the restaurant, and together over dinner we talked about my journey/book Running in Silence, a retreat in the future that Strong Runner Chicks talked about creating, amenorrhea (we mentioned A Case of the Jills of course!), how prevalent eating disorders are in running, what we hope for going forward, and of course, what places I HAD to visit during my weekend of free time in Boston. These women were life-savers for my first night, and just a wonderful group to talk with.
After a delicious dinner of “fish in a bag” (Haddock literally cooked in a bag with vegetables), Sara and Hannah were instrumental in helping me to figure out the T to get home that night.
Back onto the rickety elevator at the apartment and up to my designated “home” for the next five days, I entered my bedroom feeling lightheaded with everything that had happened in such a short amount of time in such a new environment. It had been a whirlwind those past few days—the anticipation/nervousness of speaking, plus traveling in a new place by myself.
With the stress buildup, I knew it was bound to happen: a good cry on the phone with my dad. I didn’t feel sad, but I could feel my mind was overloaded and needed a release. As I often preach in my Running in Silence talks, recovery and growing as a person means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and facing your fears each day. I know that each time I do something that’s uncomfortable or scary, I feel proud of myself afterward, and it’ll help me to have all that experience in life going forward.
I bought my own toilet paper. Ended up using it for tissue to wipe away the stress tears.
“You know Rachael, this was a very ambitious first book tour, let alone just a trip,” my dad said over the phone. I answered with a few more sniffles. “I know it’s tough now, but you will look back on this and say that it was one of the best days of your life.”
Crawling into the warm bed that night, anticipating the next week to come, and feeling a sense of pride for all I had overcome already on this trip, I knew my dad was right.
Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.