By Daniel J. Hentz
It’s a quiet Sunday evening. Local students are getting the last of their sweet-tooth jitters out before colder weather begins creeping into the forecast. JP Licks is a beloved ice cream shop and café in the Greater Boston Area. For Charles Farra, 21, it’s intrinsically a part of their Mission Hill experience (Farra prefers the pronouns “they” and “them”). Darting from the back storage room to the front cash register and then to the line to prepare ice cream orders, Farra is clearly an engaged worker.
A new neighborhood resident, Farra has been a proud supervisor at the Mission Hill location of JP Licks for over nine months. They moved here to support their boyfriend – a third-year animation and game design major at Northeastern – with the cost of living. Farra hopes to also attend school in the area soon.
Farra’s favorite part about living in Mission Hill is proximity to everything through the MBTA Green Line. But they had some reservations about the neighborhood too. One was their natural distaste for trash along the street, but other concerns were harder to name.
“It’s not sure what it wants to be. Mission Hill is a college town during the year, but it’s also not Somerville or JP, so it can change very quickly when school’s out,” Farra said. “It can be hard to fit in because the age demographic always shifts during the summer and has a different vibe.”
As a transgender man and an Apache Native American, Farra feels most vulnerable when the students go home for breaks.
“Because I still do some feminine things, I don’t pass as a man yet. I’m at risk to get harassed by non-student-age men. However, it gives me hope seeing younger people interacting within an increasingly more diverse atmosphere. More students around make me feel safer.”
Farra’s best memory of the area thus far? Going to the opening of Il Mondo Pizzeria at 738 Huntington Ave. It has become a timestamp for the beginning of Farra and their boyfriend’s time in Boston.