I lived in Boston for most of my twenties. Even though I spent my childhood in the country, I was never scared in Boston. Boston embraced me and made me feel at home. I never felt overwhelmed because there was always a respite: a park, the Esplanade, views of the water. I did a lot of my growing up there, things that I now consider necessary to be who I am today.
I did my final clinical rotation at one of the world's leading rehabilitation hospitals, Spaulding Rehab, before I became a physical therapist.
I lived in an apartment with some of my best friends, eating lots of pasta and going to lots of bars with beer-soaked floors.
Boston had the power to take this flaky sports fan who gets distracted by sunshine (Fenway) and heights (the Garden) and make me forget everything but the game.
Together, my friends and I watched the marathon every year, cheering on the runners- the elite ones, the first-timers, the old-timers, and the ones in costumes. And every year, I cried. I cried at the dedication and determination of the runners and the stumblers and those who were walking from fatigue and injury. I wanted to know each one's story because I knew each one had a story. I could see it in their faces.
I began training for a 5K and ended up training for a half marathon because when I ran along the Esplanade, I forgot that I was even running. The sailboats, the bridges, the people watching made me forget about my heavy legs and made me keep going. Boston has that effect on people.
Over the years, I went on bad dates and good dates and then a really good date, which led to another good date, which led to me marrying my husband of eleven years.
Our daughter was born in Boston.
We moved out of the city, but we still needed Boston.
I had life-changing back surgery in Boston. A Boston hospital fixed my dad's heart. I discovered Grub Street, a jewel of a writing community, which connected me to some of my most beloved friends and writers, while helping me become a better writer.
And I've always kept my fondness for Massholes. Though it rhymes with assholes, and they may be rough around the edges, I have always loved the accent that says, "I'm all Boston." Truthfully, I've always been a bit sad that I don't have that accent. And I appreciate their bluntness because, honestly, sometimes politeness is tiring.
I love that Bostonians carry on when there's two feet of snow. I love that people flock to eat outside when it's 45 degrees and wear shorts when it's over 40.
These past few days, I have grieved for the families of the victims. I have grieved for the victims. I have grieved for those who witnessed the horror of the day. But I have also grieved for Boston. How could I feel so much sympathy for a city?
And then I read on a Facebook post that said, "Boston is tough. She will survive."
And that's it. It's more than the people of Boston. It's that SHE is my city. Boston is a she, not an it. I grieve for the city herself. She is a living, breathing, character full of idiosyncrasies and quirks.
She is a mixture of old and new, a mixture of townies and newcomers, all united in their love for her. She's been so good to so many of us. Now I'm cheering you on, Boston.