Braintree was just a bedroom community, home to the big movie theater and the southernmost stop on the Red Line, but when I was a kid, its name evoked a sense of wonder. I envisioned an enormous oak with a canopy of marbled grey matter.
When I started to take public transportation into the city for high school, and then covered Boston’s neighborhoods as a reporter a decade later, these names started to lose their mystery, because I heard them every day. I could recite the stops on the Red Line in one breath without thinking, like a catechism, and heard the conductor say, “This is a Brrrraintree train, Braintree” so often, it didn’t conjure anything in me anymore. Some days, that commute felt long and endless, like I would be riding Red Line trains until the end of days. I rode the subway so much, I felt like Charlie.