A few days ago, drinking boba tea from Gong Cha, located just a block from my house, I recall a friend mentioning how much of a college town Harvard Square really is. And, I mean, she was right; cars are forced to take precautions as student-athletes zip to Harvard Yard on electric scooters; Harvard merch stores, advertising anything from key chains and coffee mugs to hoodies and sweatpants, have popped up every two blocks; the average age of a custodian is typically never beyond twenty-five.
In response, I probably chuckled, taking another sip of boba tea, amused by the fact that this college town has been the epitome of my childhood.
I have fond memories of Harvard Square. It was where I first went to Ballet school, learned how to ride a bike, and went to church. As a child, when I was bored, I’d rush to the COOP, two blocks from my house, to find new books I could get my hands on (though I typically went every Saturday when the COOP had Reading Days with chips and juice). Harvard Square always had the best candy shop, leading me to shamelessly beg my parents for Tootsie Rolls and Sour Patch Kids after a long day at school.
Nonetheless, things have changed as I enter the final months of my senior year. Developers have infiltrated the Harvard Square I loved and held so dearly. The local shops I proudly showed my friends are now vacated, leaving a depressing mark on the vibrant town center. Darwins, the sandwich shop I went to after church, is now closed, and the world’s only Curious George Shop has been shut down. City council members have started advocating for measures supporting the construction of twenty-five-story buildings close to my house. The Harvard Square I once knew is slowly disappearing, turning into a figment of my imagination, a fever dream, a remnant of a long-lost childhood.
Recently, I’ve started to take walks in Harvard Square to reconnect with my childhood. After school, I’ll stop at a local coffee shop to read a novel or start homework. On weekends, I’ve begun to listen to the music of Harvard Yard, appreciating the sounds of city cars and bustling students.
Perhaps, though, beginning to appreciate the small things, the things you took for granted as a child, such as listening to local guitarists playing Viva La Vida on JFK Street and the kind lady from the ice-cold lemonade stand during May Fair, is just a part of growing up. Perhaps, recalling these bittersweet moments, I’ve come to see Harvard Square in a new light: a special part of my childhood amid my transition into a new stage of life.