“Insanity” does seem a good word for the events of the past week but certainly not tongue in cheek, as it usually does in this column.
That’s because Boston is my city.
With what has happened, I feel compelled to tell people about Boston, about Patriot’s Day, about what an incredible city it is and how I love it like no other place on Earth. It’s the city where I fell in love, the city where I had my first real job, the city where I lived the tremendous highs and the nearly unbearable lows with the Red Sox during their fateful year of 1986. It’s a city I return to as much as I can, to Fenway Park, to Downtown, and especially to the Back Bay.
1986 was a magical year in my life, from the time spent with my eventual husband, to the Red Sox, to my classes as a student, and my occasional articles for the Boston University newspaper. That year, I covered the Boston Marathon for a feature article on the crowds and the atmosphere. I stood with the crowds in Kenmore Square and watched as first the wheelchair participants and then the lead runners went by.
It’s hard to describe what Patriot’s Day is like to those not from the Boston area because there’s nothing else like it. It’s the unofficial first day of spring, where everyone wakes up from the long New England winter and into the sunshine. It’s a school holiday. It’s a state holiday. But, mostly, it’s Boston’s holiday.
It starts in the morning with the beginning of the Marathon, and then the Red Sox play an early game. As crowds gather in Kenmore Square, you can hear the roar (or the agony) of the crowd. It’s designed so the Sox game lets out about the same time the runners hit Kenmore Square. The Fenway Park crowd swells the people already gathered, cheering and happy as the runners pass. The Back Bay and Boylston Street are full of tired runners and their families. The restaurants swell and people amble around Boylston and Newbury Street and there are parties in the Eliot Hotel bar in the Back Bay.
Right at the finish line is Copley Square, seen so many times on the news this week, and the old entrance to the Boston Public Library, a structure that rivals the more famous New York Public Library. Two Halloweens ago, New England was hit with a nasty winter storm that knocked power out for twelve days in my house. I took my kids to relatives in Boston and turned necessity into a bit of a mini-vacation. We visited Copley Plaze, the Public Library, and went across the street at the Apple Store, ate lunch inside the Prudential Center, and strolled down Newbury Street.
I had planned to do something similar this weekend, with a trip to Boston Comic Con, but those plans are on hold at the moment as events play out.
This, of course, is the exact area that was hit on Monday. Watertown, where law enforcement officials are currently camped out? I’ve lived near there too.
This all breaks my heart.
But Boston will be back. Kevin Cullen, a columnist for The Boston Globe, one of the few branches of the media being responsible this week, was quoted in The New York Times article today that Boston is a city that cares about “politics, sports, and revenge.”
That’s right as far as it goes. Boston loves its sports and its spirited and sometimes ridiculous politics, and certainly it’s a city seething in anger today. But, like many other cities, it also cares deeply about its people.
The Boston Marathon will run next year. And the crowds will be bigger than ever.