As the bus pulled out of South Station on Marathon Monday, I had foolish thoughts of what Boston didn’t mean to me running through my head.
A burning inscription in an astrology book once told me that being born on September 18 meant that I would be found geographically and emotionally far from my original home. Given my imminent relocation to Los Angeles and the immediate trek to my current home, New York City, this made sense to me. My time in Boston served me well, and that time was over. Each time I went back, I would find myself happy to have moved on, and on a day in which the whole city celebrated, there was a content peace to the Hub that made me feel like it was time to push on home to New York, which brakes for no one.
Forty-five minutes into my Greyhound journey, that notion that “home” as a moveable concept was immediately put to the test.
Someone had bombed the Boston Marathon on the one day every year when the entire world gleefully shines a light on the city by the harbor. Boston is a hotbed for American history, Southie mob stories, and doughnut chains – a place chock full of students with the lingering spirits of all those who did their time there and left with a degree or stayed for life. Boston isn’t like other cities. It has a simulcast inferiority/superiority complex at times, and almost always conjures ideas of the supremely educated living side by side with calloused laborers donning the most atrocious accent available in this country. It’s also one of the most picturesque and well-maintained cities we Americans have to offer. And for me, it’s home.
If I have learned anything from the first 26 years of my life living in Greater Boston, it’s that the Massachusetts brood doesn’t take kindly to those who mess with their turf. They also don’t forget things. This is obvious when I think back on my own family’s feuds and the generations of grudges held. After my grandmother’s pearl necklace went missing, she spent years blaming her “no-good nephew” for the apparent heist, despite her not wearing it for close to a year prior to his visit. She went to her grave thinking her nephew was a sticky-fingered “ahhs-hole” and for the last decade of her life, the daggers she shot him at family gatherings could have pierced brick walls. Typical Boston broad.
I’ve tried my best in recent years to buck the Boston boy in me, but when tears came to my eyes watching news reports unfold and paint a nasty picture of the beloved Bean being ripped at the serendipitous seams, I knew that Boston hadn’t escaped me. My desire to get right back on the bus at Penn Station was strong, and even though I couldn’t physically be there, I still felt like someone had violated my own backyard.
That same thirst for vengeance that swirled around the Welch family pearl necklace fiasco of 1991 exists in the same palpable need to string up the bombing suspect(s) at City Hall Plaza and beat him/her or all of them with bats leant from Fenway Park. That’s actually what I love about Boston. It’s a tough city, and as even the President himself noted, it’s people are resilient. In other words, if Boston is in someone’s blood, a feisty fighter they make.
Boston will surely fight back in a way that won’t be confined to the boundaries of Suffolk County. Boston is in the spirit of so many people in America and beyond, it’s actually hard to fathom just how many people have ties to it. You can set up shop 3,000 miles away, or on another continent if you wish, but once Boston gets inside your soul, it doesn’t leave. I’ve seen blog posts and shared articles – too many to link to – mention that so many people claim a sense of ownership to Boston that this event doesn’t just hurt the city itself, but a whole host of those who have been there for a while or longer are also rightly pissed. Wicked pissed, in fact.
Boston is damaged by this. And that’s understandable. But it will actually be better because of this. The inability to forget will band this city together, and like a salty, chowder-like glue, will give Boston the gusto it needs to get back to being the tough and bossy town it always has been. And may this be a lesson that no one should mess with Boston again.