CHRIS BATTAGLIA

Thoughts

I Want to Write

Ginza in Boston's Chinatown is where I had the first-best sushi I've had to date. Dad and I were traipsing around the financial district. Maybe we were just kicking rocks downtown during one of his visits at school. Maybe this was the trip where we swam in Walden Pond. He and I always make a sincere effort to find a great place to eat, and somewhere just off Atlantic Street, we found it.

It sat quietly, unassuming at the end of the first block of the Chinatown gate. We ordered seaweed salad, a Snow White roll, and some other rolls. It was my first seaweed salad and I sank into a small place in food heaven. It was unexpectedly delightful. Everything I wanted from a dish that I could  pair with sushi.

The Snow White roll landed on our table. White albacore tuna, atop more tuna of a different variety, avocado, sesame, and even more accoutrements. I can't wholly remember the ingredients. I think the tuna on top was torched lightly for added texture and flavor. It was something of an angelic roll, if I may. I'll never forget the meal.

Yet, when I made a surprise Boston girlfriend-pick-up over the July 4th holiday a couple weeks ago, I couldn't recall the name of this memorable spot. She would arrive at noon from NYC by way of bus, planning to kill four or five hours before embarking downeast to Portland, ME. Naturally, her hunger prodded me for suggestions. So I told her about South Street Diner, that she had to make a stop at one of my favorite little restaurants in Boston.

Once upon another Boston trip several years ago, dad and I searched for a "greasy spoon" to satisfy the urge for a warm, savory, and hearty breakfast. A good diner. Something near transit. By no dumb luck, we found one of Boston's oldest diners, on South Street, two blocks by foot from the bus terminal. South Street Diner, go figure.

After the pick-up, we couldn't park for dear life. We pined for incredible hotcakes and eggs that seeped from my memory. I wanted to sit again at the diner's counter, nearly breathing down the neck of the must-be-80 year old line cook in front of us.

Upon defeat, we tried the other dining staple I knew. Yet Ginza shut down.

And so I think about the times I thought I was onto something good by scheming to create "Local City/Neighborhood Guides." I dreamed of publishing brief editorials when I lived in Laos, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and New Zealand. I have filmed and photographed for nearly a month in Sardinia, studied at Oxford University in the summertime, and surfed in small Costa Rica beaches dotting the Pacific coast. Yet I suspect that spending time in these places, in such capacities are not enough to merit "local guiding."

Reading through the newest Drift magazine, thumbing briefly through the annual Monocle magazine's Quality of Life issue, I am confronted by the countless editorial outlets focusing on all the new or exciting places to explore, live, and revisit. There are entire magazines dedicated to a singular city, per issue. So what qualities differentiate each from from the other? I can't quite formulate an answer, yet.

Contributors voices are unique, true. I wonder about the end goals of these pieces. The driving theses behind these publications feel as though they are guided by moral compasses. But so often the lessons are unremarkable. The takeaways are merely a consumable good or experience that is, no doubt, more expensive than we all can both appreciate and afford.

I'd love to be tested by the opportunity to write, photograph, and film stories for editorial outlets and media companies. Storytelling is in my bones but it needs refining. Many who read the last article about moving from New York to Maine suggested I try to publish it, or merely that it was insightful and relevant to your lives as well. And so this line of thought kicked me in the pants and got me thinking about writing and telling stories when I can, with hopes to move beyond the ephemera of daily life, routine, and the like.

Perhaps this is a personal call to action that also meanders into the minds and hearts of those of you out there who are reading this, thinking similarly.

I want to write, but not to address a full-time job status. I want to write to address and make available the thoughts that enlighten, or eat away at me. I want to write, as we all should, because if you have any command over your native language (read: you can read and speak), then surely you must write. And we must do so with greater goals than selling things, experiences, or trends. Hopefully there is a friendly philosophical discourse that makes conversation, rather than the last dinner you had at the new restaurant that must be tried. Or the sports scores and gossip associated with the most recent game for "your" team. I am not suggesting that thoughtful dialogue and fodder for small talk are mutually exclusive, but we will soon lose sight of the good stuff, forget the important memories with loved ones and reasons you hold certain beliefs.

And so today, on the uptown A train - express to 181st Street in Washington Heights - I finally remembered Ginza in all of its glory. My mind flooded with that good feeling of random recollection when one least expects it. I then tripped barreling up the stairs in the subway station. An old man grabbed my arm and restrained me, prevented me from face-planting into the concrete.  As I thanked him as graciously as I could, I made sure every footstep made towards the apartment was intentional.

And then I sat down and wrote.