Hello, readers! I am back after 10 days of fun in the sun down in Florida – the long-awaited trip St. Nick surprised the kiddos with at Christmas . I have a bunch of posts planned with my thoughts and reviews on our hotels, the parks, traveling with a toddler and why you absolutely need a stroller for a 6-year-old at Disney World, so be sure to check back over the next week or so. But there is something I need to do first.
I know so much has been said and written about what happened in Boston last week. I don’t want to add to the noise, but I never got a chance to share my thoughts and feelings on the tragedy, or attempt to articulate what this city means to me. So please bear with me.
We were standing in 90 degree heat at Hollywood Studios last week when we heard the news via text message: there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Dr. G. and I were with our friends J and M (it was J who got the first text message from a worried relative), and we began frantically searching online for any tidbits of information, all of us desperate to find out what was happening back home. It was the most most bizarre feeling: we stood there in a circle, engrossed in this horrible, terrible story, and meanwhile, our kids sat innocently oblivious on a stone wall, enjoying the shade and some ice cream cones.
A thousands thoughts raced through my mind. I knew people who were running, volunteering and simply watching the race. Were they okay? I thought of all my fellow runners, my heart breaking for them, knowing the time and dedication it takes to prepare for a race like this, and how their dreams – and their safety – were now in danger. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this tragedy had unfolded in an area I knew like the back of my hand, and couldn’t believe the horrific images I was seeing, photos that resembled something out of a disaster movie. And, of course, I panicked wondering about who could have done something this, and why, and whether they would strike again.
Sadly, most of those questions have now been answered (and thankfully everyone I know is okay), but trust me when I say it was incredibly surreal to be in the safe, make-believe cocoon of Disney when such horrible things were unfolding at home.
For the next week, whenever a friendly Disney employee would make small talk and ask where I was from, I would immediately reply, “Boston,” as I always do (even though I live in the suburbs and probably spend more time in neighboring Rhode Island). Of course, once they heard that, their expression would suddenly change, their formerly sunny smile fading, their expression changing to one of pity. No one actually mentioned what happened (maybe its an unspoken rule at Disney that you can’t refer to sad, tragic events) but they obviously knew. And I didn’t elaborate either … perhaps because I still couldn’t process the fact that the city I love was under attack.
My relationship with the city of Boston goes back nearly 20 years. Like tens of thousands of other college students each year, I arrived there as a naive 18-year-old freshman and immediately fell in love with this beautiful, quirky, historic, cosmopolitan place that was so unlike my own hometown only an hour away. In the passing years, I would eventually live in other cities, but Boston never left me, and I always managed to find my way back home.
Because in that time, Boston became a part of me.
I never got tired of seeing this view out my dorm room window.
It’s where I met some of my dearest friends, women who would play – and continue to play – significant roles in my life, and it’s impossible to think of them and not remember those nights sipping cappuccinos at Caffe Vittoria in the North End or going on adventures along the Esplanade or meeting for happy hour cocktails after work.
It’s the city where I fell in love for the first time and, many years later at a costume party in the shadows of the former Fleet Center, for the last time .
All of my memories of the early days of my relationship with Dr. G., and how I fell in love with him, are intertwined with Boston: how he met me outside my office on Boylston Street (just blocks from the bombing site) for our first date, a bouquet of flowers in hand. How we spent our third or fourth date exploring the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum followed by the most amazing Thai food at Brown Sugar Cafe in the Fens, where he taught me how to properly use chopsticks. How we took sailing lessons on the Charles River and got caught in a torrential downpour, so completely soaked by time we got back that we were both laughing hysterically.
It’s the city where I made mistakes and learned some tough – and often bittersweet – life lessons that still guide me today.
It’s the city where I pursued my career and stumbled across a sub-speciality in my field where I still find myself today.
It’s where I became a grown-up, an adult, and discovered the woman I was meant to be.
Over the last week, I realized that it doesn’t matter what my zip code says, because in my heart I am a Bostonian, and no tragedy or cowardly act of terrorism can take away what this city means to me … and how it has shaped the person I am today.