She’s From Boston

A few thoughts about yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon:

I grew up a half mile from the Boston Marathon route, spending every Patriots Day cheering on the countless individuals, and later some incredible friends, who ran the route from Hopkinton to Boston.  Until this year, in fact, I didn’t realize that Patriots Day wasn’t a national holiday, even though I’ve lived all over.  To me, the day was such a celebration, a town-wide block party, that I didn’t realize the entire country wasn’t enjoying the same kind of spirit and fun that I was privileged enough to experience every year.

When Jackson was six months old, Jason and I took him to cheer on the runners at the marathon, and the only reason we haven’t been back since is because of subsequent babies and the distance.  We have taken the kids to cheer on the runners of the Covered Bridge Half Marthon, and Jason is training to run it himself this year.  In seven short weeks we will be spectators there ourselves, with homemade t-shirts and posters, waiting near the finish line for our loved one to complete his amazing accomplishment.  Last year he ran a 5K, this year a half marathon.  Who’s to say that in a year or two he wouldn’t be training for the Boston Marathon itself, with my family there on Boylston Street to be the first to greet him when he finished?  It’s things like that that have been bothering me all night: that the victims of this attack were families just like mine, waiting for loved ones just like Jason, reveling in one of the best days of the year.  One of the best days to be from Boston.

I taught at the high school in Newtown, Connecticut.  I know that community and their pain.  I went to college forty-five minutes outside of New York City during 9/11, and had classmates, roommates, and friends who were thunderstruck as terror struck their city.  The husband of a dear friend was in the second tower that day; thankfully he survived.  Now it is my city that is feeling the pain of an attack, and no matter that it has been nine years since I called Boston my home, to me it always will be, and I feel the significance of this event deeply.

Every time Jason and I drive down 93 South, I get a giddy, elated feeling whenever Boston’s skyline comes into view.  I always turn to him and say, “Don’t you just love Boston? Doesn’t it feel like we belong here?”  Since Jason is a chameleon and can feel at home anywhere, he just smiles and indulges me, knowing that indeed Boston is a great city, but that it is unlikely that we will ever live there again.  One of my biggest regrets about that is that my kids won’t know what it’s like to say, “I’m from Boston.”  To know what that means and how that defines you, how other people all over the country know without explanation what that means.  Tell someone from New Mexico that you’re from Vermont and they’ll say something like, “Isn’t that in Canada?”  But say you’re from Boston and they have a visual–mostly from movies like Ted and Fever Pitch–but they know.  I’m proud to be from Boston, proud of my city and how its people responded to this terrible crisis, how passionate, strong,and brave everyone has been in the face of this danger.  I’ve always known that and been proud of it, and after yesterday, the whole world knows it, too.

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