As a Boston University student in the College of Communication, I hardly make the trek – if you can call it that – to the foreign land that is west campus, and by extension, Allston.
BU is separated into three sections: east, central, and west; all are located on Commonwealth Avenue. Each section conveniently has its own MBTA subway stop. Once housing is factored in, two other sections, south and Allston, become relevant. South campus entails the Fenway/Brookline area while Allston is anything past Raising Cane’s (yes, the fried chicken place) extending to Brighton.
I live in south campus and attend classes in east campus, so the only reason I really have to make the trip to west campus is to make the dreaded visit to BU’s Fitness and Recreation Center, a visit I usually end up not making.
However, this day was different. I started out a dreary Sunday in July with a trip to Pavement Coffeehouse to meet a new friend.
For every section of BU, there is a Pavement. Getting from south campus, the furthest point recognized on BU campus, to the heart of Allston where the shop is, takes a solid 40 minutes. As Ben B. from Yelp puts in a review, this coffee chain is known as a “quintessential clean-cut hipster coffee shop” that serves all sorts of people in the Boston area. I ordered an iced chai tea latte, which I highly recommend, while the friend ordered a drink with matcha. Though the shop is one of the smallest in Boston with a max person capacity of less than 20 people, the ambiance felt modern with big windows, bright lighting, and small, designer plants decorating the interior.
After a casual chat with our over-priced drinks, my friend and I began to wander down the street. We happened to find a curious little bookstore called Bookistan.
It’s the sort of place where if you blink, you’ll miss it.
The window to the door at the entrance is shattered, revealing a spider web-like pattern. This represents the store well. It may look like a mess upon first glance, but with a second look and some patience, beauty reveals itself. The store, like Pavement, is no bigger than a cheap apartment in downtown Boston. Every space available is covered with books, trinkets, vinyl, playing cards, horse race ribbons – you name it.
I pick up a pin point impression toy and jokingly make a few impressions. As my friend points out how nostalgic the toy makes him, the owner of the shop comments that the toy also has another use. He points to his fingers and says the pricks from the pins act as a massage for fingers, useful after a long day spent typing.
We didn’t end up buying anything, but from the conversations we heard and the Yelp reviews we read, Bookistan serves as a conversation starter. It’s a place where you continuously discover.
And if that isn’t the best metaphor for Allston, then I don’t know what is.