If you’re going to be sad, you might as well take advantage of the Hub’s best miserable destinations
BY TARAN DUGAL, LAUREN GRUBER, CHRIS FARAONE, MEAGHAN T’AO, DIG STAFF, GRACE SYMES
Last week, around the time that we were closing out September at DigBoston, one of our editors was procrastinating on the socials when they came across a recent post from Curbed titled, “Where to cry in public in the Boston area, mapped.” It’s a somewhat serviceable compendium that includes weep-worthy picks such as Fenway Park and Cambridge Common, and, as it turns out, it’s sailed this stream before, having produced compelling clickbait like, “Where to cry in Boston: the 10 best spots.” Other sites have also got in on the gimmick; in one case, Ghost Parachute specified the distinct sort of cry each place is good for (our favorite designation: The Fancy Dab of the Tear Duct With a Starched Dinner Napkin).
Meanwhile, we were already busy co-opting a similar idea that other alternative weeklies across the country have found success with. Since many of our friends in other cities have included lists of the best places to cry on campus in their back-to-school guides, we thought it would be fun—if not a bit depressing, in a shameless click-whorey kind of way—to expand such a survey to an entire metro region. So instead of crawling under a table and quitting for the mere fact that other damp-eyed explorers have traversed this tear-covered terrain, we shed a few and then returned to work. We’ve actually been stockpiling these for months, and it would be a crying shame if we didn’t put forth our contribution.
In Greater Boston, it’s reasonably safe to say that almost everyone who drives spends a significant part of their commute hollering—at other drivers, or no one in particular—as melodrama is a proven cure-all for suffocation due to severe automobile congestion. You don’t need us to tell you that the region has more than a simple volume problem on its hands; ask anybody who suffers behind the wheel in these throes, and chances are they’ll have a story about missing an off-hour flight or appointment as a result of inexplicable traffic or lane closures. But while it is always fun to weep in the whip, no matter where you roll, we specifically suggest the stretch of I-93 South after you emerge from the tunnel near Ink Block by the South End. Why? In addition to the depression that will inevitably set in when you realize that you’ll never be able to afford one of those sleek new pads, the people in the autos next to you won’t be looking at their neighbors, but rather at the definitely unsafe number of competing billboards crowding the skyline in that vicinity. Go ahead, let those ducts run like the rapids. Nobody will notice. -CF
Like other cool subterranean hideaways, the Photonics Building basement lounge is one of the true gems of the Boston University campus. A perennial favorite of overworked students, the room hits its peak attendance at around 9 or 10 pm on weekdays. At that time, students begin to file in and claim seats at the large round tables so they can start their evening cram sessions, many of which stretch into the early morning. A lot of people even opt to nap, eat, study, and cry in their seats.You get the picture—it’s a perfectly quiet retreat, disturbed only by the occasional click of keyboards and, we’re not joking, bouts of quiet sobbing. Join the chorus. [Ed. note: Ditto for campus cellars citywide, though we don’t encourage trespassing at those that aren’t open to the public.] -MT
We know, we know, you cry almost every time you’re on the train, at least internally. It’s like the nightmare of commuting in a car, only worse, with less control and other people playing music out loud for some reason, since they’ve never heard of headphones. Of all the Boston trains to let it out on, particularly if you’re looking for a little bit of privacy, the Red Line is probably tops. The standard cars have an individual seat on each end, which, whether you’re crying or not, are possibly the most secluded nooks available in the entire MBTA system. Even better, jump on one of the Mattapan trolleys, where you can sometimes go for several stops without seeing anyone but the operator. -DS
If you ever find yourself stumbling, sadly, around Mission Hill, searching for a solitary place to center yourself and wait out the troubles weighing on your mind, a short climb up to the McLaughlin Playground field might serve your needs. Modest in size, but dotted with hundreds of small white flowers and buttercups, the field stands on top of Parker Hill, the “balcony of Boston,” and acts as a nexus for several hiking trails that snake into the nearby forest. If you get up from your bed of flowers and look to the east, you’ll see the city rolling out from under the hilltop, a view that stretches all the way to Boston Harbor and its islands. What better place to sniffle one’s way to peace of mind? My only advice: find a shady spot to shield yourself from the intrusive stares of the occasional grade schooler chasing down a runaway baseball. -TD
We really shouldn’t tell people about this getaway, since we actually use it for reportorial purposes from time to time, and because the people who work there are extremely helpful and do not deserve to be bothered by somber bastards while they’re trying to assist the handful of attorneys and assorted other oddballs who use their facilities on a regular basis. But we can’t make a list like this, one that we believe proves weepier than any of the incredibly weepy roundups that have come before it, and exclude a place where one might, if they’re lucky, get to cry alongside a Beacon Hill politician who is sick of scheming and wishes to do something positive with their life for a change. If that sounds like something you might want to check out, then head to the State Library of Massachusetts on the third floor of the State House on any weekday and be sure to bring a spare handkerchief. -CF
If you’ve already stopped at the aquarium and even the seals frolicking outside don’t brighten your mood, that section of the 43-mile Boston Harborwalk, just past the aquarium, is a safe place to let it all out. It may not be as secluded as other parts of the stretch—especially those in East Boston or Dorchester, or on the nine public beaches it connects—but for a central point, this is an excellent place to tune out the rest of the world for a nice, lengthy sob session. Take a seat at the water’s edge, turn your back on the duck boaters, and set your tears off toward the ocean. Hear the chatter of aquarium-goers passing by, observe some sad bundles of seaweed, and maybe even ogle an occasional duck through those blurry eyes. -GS
When tourists and Indiana Jones types show up at 470 Atlantic Ave requesting entry to the 14th-floor observation deck, which the public is supposed to be able to use between 10 am and 5 pm on weekdays, the only people typically crying are the passing snobs who disapprove of the intended universal access to this perfect view. As noted above, the Harborwalk is a good place to feel bad, but adjacent to that experience, a highlight if you will, is this building’s priceless (literally, it’s free) views of Fort Point Channel and more. A true crowd favorite, this locale is ideal for shedding multiple varieties of tears, including those of joy; look closely when you’re up there, and you may even spy a celebrity at the Moakley Courthouse getting sentenced for a totally obnoxious crime. -DS
Sorry if this has been featured on every other list purporting to help people find places to be miserable, but it would be absurd to exclude the Public Garden, especially since the place is literally filled with gorgeous weeping willows. It’s not simply the brilliant foliage either, though, but rather the intense peace and tranquility this place tends to foster. I sometimes cry there for a rather unique reason, since I was on the bridge over the swan boats when the Boston Marathon was bombed in 2013, making for a special kind of grief I endure every time I walk through till this day. As I’ve learned in a relatively hard way, though, it really is a splendid spot to expel all kinds of pain and toxic emotions. -CF
Crying can be glamorous too. Put on your best silks, maybe deck yourself in diamonds, and layer on the black eye makeup à la Amy Winehouse. Then head to the atrium at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and blast some Lana (or whatever suits your strife) through your AirPods. The breathtaking open space isn’t quite as quiet as it used to be, and on weekends or holidays can feel like one of the busiest museums in Boston. But at other times it’s still a prime place to put your head down and water, as the lush greenery makes an epic backdrop for stray tears to make their way down contoured cheeks. If you’re going to be sad, you might as well be sad in style. -LG
We don’t exactly recommend loitering in the crevices and alleyways of Downtown Crossing. Sure, they have come a long way, with the hallway between Winter Street and Temple Place, known to some as Literary District Alley, even highlighted in tourism guides, but they’re still passageways with scant light or visibility, as well as plenty of open-air drug deals. So, again, enter at your own risk, but for a short cry—we’re talking 10 seconds or less—you are hard-pressed to find a more rugged shield. There’s even company to complement your misery, and the best part is that while the murals of literary figures from the city’s past—all somber creatures in their own right, no doubt—may offer a bit of comfort, they won’t bother, stare, or laugh at you at all. -DS