John non-stop

The first little person I ever met tried to sell me a T-shirt in Boston.

Having pushed passed the New England Conservatory students, noisy pizza joints and a one-armed pimp in a Members Only jacket (he must have been the last member), I stood before 98 Hemenway Street. That beaten-down building, which would close a year later, was my freshman dorm at Berklee. John stood on the stoop. “Want to buy a T-Shirt?” he said. It had obviously been silkscreened by hand. “Um, yeah,” I said.

I spent my first night alone, wearing my new shirt and watching David Letterman on a 13″ black-and-white TV. Actually, I only looked at the television. My mind was replaying the moment that I said goodbye to my parents at the Newbury Street Garage.

That was an astounding 20 years ago. Today I live on Cape Cod but my heart is in Boston. Whenever I visit, I take what my wife calls “The Nostalgia Tour.” We eat at Cappy’s, buy an iced tea from DeLuca’s (the only thing I could afford from that place in 1989), walk through The Fens and take the Green Line to Park Street.

We also visit the former site of Allson Beat on Newbury Street, in honor of John. He was what we used to call a “club kid” who lived the lifestyle 24/7. So we called him John Non-Stop. I think he lives in NYC today.

On Saturday I’ll travel to Cambridge to listen to iOS developers discuss their craft at Voices That Matter. Though I was born and raised in Scranton, PA, visiting Boston always feels like a homecoming.

And I still have the T-shirt.