Girl Talk

Will You Marry Me?

Last September, I wrote about Jaimie and Nick.  While I haven’t yet solved their romantic mystery, I do have an update.  But first you need to read the original post:

My neighborhood is lined with cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks.  As you might imagine, the old chipped bricks make for an uneven walking surface.  And over the years, I’ve ruined more than one pair of high heels.  So I’ve learned to watch where I step.

Back in July (2016), I noticed that an old brick had been replaced with a brand new one with clean, sharp edges, and a perfectly etched message that read:  JAIMIE, WILL YOU MARRY ME?  NICK

I’m not sure how long the brick had been in place when it caught my eye.  But each day as I walk by, I feel compelled to check and see if the brick is still there.  It’s become a wildly romantic mystery to me as I spin all sorts of stories about how the brick came to be in this spot, as well as my speculations about this couple – Jaimie and Nick.  Do I know them by sight?  Maybe they live right across the street from me.  Is Jaimie a woman or a man?  Have they gotten married?

So many questions remain unanswered.  Why did Nick choose to propose in this way?  How exactly did he plan his grand gesture?  And what happened when Jaimie spotted the brick?  If Jaimie accepted the proposal, wouldn’t they have dug up the brick as a memento?  Likewise, if Jaimie rejected the proposal, wouldn’t Nick have dug it up and gotten rid of what would’ve become a painful reminder?  Either way, why does the brick remain?

Update: One morning, as my downstairs neighbor and I left for work at the same time, we walked together down Dartmouth Street.  When I pointed out the brick and confessed that I was intrigued by it, she told me that her husband had witnessed the proposal.

“Tell me everything!” I pleaded.

Jaimie is a young woman, and Nick a young man, she confirmed.  Whether Jaimie saw the brick at first or not remains to be seen.  But when Nick got down on one knee in the traditional pose, my neighbor, right along with Jaimie, realized what was about to happen.  My neighbor didn’t want to impose on such a personal and meaningful moment so he quickly turned the corner and got out of sight.

“That’s it?  That’s all you know!” I persisted.

“My husband assumed she said yes,” she replied.

More than ever, I believe Jaimie and Nick are together and living happily ever after.

Best of Boston, Life Lessons

Flight of the Angel

Last August, I wrote about the annual Feast of St. Anthony that takes place in Boston’s Italian North End.  Called “the Feast of All Feasts,” it’s the culmination of the summer season’s celebrations of faith, Italian culture, and food – and the biggest block party you could ever imagine.  However, this year, on the Sunday night prior to the St. Anthony Feast, I ventured down to North and Fleet Streets for the Fisherman’s Feast because an Italian-American friend promised me a spectacle “unlike anything you’ve ever seen!”  She wasn’t kidding.

The tradition of the Fisherman’s Feast was brought to Boston by Sicilian immigrants in the early 1900’s to commemorate the fishermen’s great devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Help).  Every August, to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Flight of the Angel takes place at the conclusion of the Fisherman’s Feast.

A large crowd gathered at dusk, awaiting the arrival of the statue of the Madonna and the little angels who pray to her.  Trumpets played and everyone cheered when the statue of the Madonna approached. Spotlights shone on two skirted third-story balconies, directly across from one another.  A little girl dressed as an angel appeared on one of the balconies and began praying in Sicilian.  Soon, the second little angel appeared on the opposite balcony.  With the help of some elaborate cables, she began her descent until she was lowered down to greet the statue.  Still suspended, she also prayed to the Madonna.  The crowd went wild cheering and throwing confetti.

But what was truly remarkable about this scene was not that these little girls had memorized a rather lengthy prayer in Italian, or how the many hands holding the cables did everything with such care and precision, or even how beautiful the statue was.  It was extraordinary to witness the devotion of so many people, and the great sense of community that devotion had inspired.  Younger people made spaces on the crowded street and sidewalk for older folks, as folding chairs seemingly appeared as if by magic for these elders.  Adults lifted children up – not even their own children – so the youngsters could get a better look.  And despite the lack of a significant police presence, when the ceremony was over, the thousand-plus crowd disbursed in a respectful and organized fashion.  I’m sure the Madonna del Sorrorso was smiling down on all of us.