GLORIA: That mother off in Tuscany’ll be lucky if those kids’ throats aren’t cut when she gets back that’s all I’m saying, that is my point.
FRAN: Is that it, can I go now? I needa catch the next 87 into the square to meet my friends.
By her junior year of high school, Fran Giosa isn’t choosing to spend much time in her home town. Instead, she’s taking a bus two towns over to Harvard Square to hang out there.
Throughout its history, Harvard Square has been a hub of academia, commerce, protest, dining, and more. The neighborhood’s restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and book stores were often gathering places for radicals and outsiders of many kinds. When the renovation of the subway station was completed in 1983, however, a new gathering place was created right in the heart of the square: the Pit. The tiered concrete plaza quickly became a favorite hangout of young people looking for a place to escape, as well as homeless people of all ages who welcomed a well-trafficked area in which to ask seek assistance from passers-by.
Ken MaGuire, in an article about the murder of a homeless woman who often frequented the Pit, wrote, “For years, Harvard Square has been a place for kids to congregate with friends, to fit in when they might elsewhere be considered misfits, to sleep when they might not have a home.” Later in the article, he quotes the associate director of a Boston-area youth outreach group as saying that young people are attracted to Harvard Square because “you can fit in. They’re looking for love, to feel cared about, and to be connected.” It is not hard to imagine Fran, who at this point in her life is feeling increasingly isolated from her family, former friends, and community, wanting nothing more than to fit in, to feel cared about, and to be connected.