In my 23 years of growing up in and outside of Boston, I don’t recall any moment when the entire city shut down. I can count the number of school snow days I had on one hand. I had one day off for Hurricane Gloria. Massholes are not wimps; there is no room to be.
In my lifetime, Boston has been a decidedly calm and peaceful place. I grew up a few houses down from the Boston Marathon starting line in a pastoral suburb. The night before the race, my parents offered their backyard as a camping spot and my mom whipped up a pasta dinner for whomever chose to sleep there. We had regulars year after year. The morning of the race, I used to stand on the crumbling stonewall in our front yard and ask runners for their autographs. The perforated notebook paper with bib numbers and signatures is taped in an old scrapbook.
The event celebration changed in college as we got Patriot’s Day off. Hanging out the windows of my Comm Ave apartment, friends and I cheered and offered tequila shots to the runners on their descent from Heartbreak Hill. A couple of years later, I left.
From afar, it’s bizarre to watch Boston’s swift ascent to the center stage of world focus. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with photos of vacant Kenmore Square, abandoned Allston, and friends communicating with their families and friends, “We are okay.” I texted my brother, “Dude, did you go to work today?” and he replied, “No, I was told to stay home. WTF.”
Cliché as it may be, resilient is one of the better labels applied to Boston. We endure five-month winters; spring never came after spring break like it was supposed to. We learn to drive in a city with no sensible grid structure and are taught to liberally flex our middle finger and our vocal chords. We tolerated what felt like decades of Big Dig construction (and I’m not convinced the traffic improved). Our sports teams all sucked, then got better, and we stayed wicked loyal throughout. The city is a hodgepodge of Irish and Italian, Portuguese and Puerto Rican, students and families. Boston is vibrant, diverse, loud and tough and blunt, yet it’s approachable and filled with tangibly down-to-earth, no-nonsense people. When you leave, these qualities are ingrained on your soul.
San Francisco is filled with Boston peeps. It’s evident when the opposing stands are packed when the Red Sox visit the A’s. It’s why we have The Connecticut Yankee. It’s why we need a Dunkin Donuts. It’s why, at work, when someone asks, “How do you feel about this project?” we say, “Who the fuck cares? Now shut the fuck up and let’s just get this shit done.” We bring East Coast pragmatism to a city that can get a little too quixotic.
Bostonians assert a patriotism that few, if any, American cities can compete with. Shit happens to Boston, but it picks up and carries on. The city has experienced its share of adversity through the past many centuries. But, it doesn’t make it suck any less that this is all happening, now, in a place that has been so many people’s home at a point in their lives before they spread their wings out in the world.
To my people in Boston and my fellow Massholes here, I'm sad, and pissed, and frustrated, and confused, and bummed, and I know you are too. I’m sorry.