Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston

I've been crying for the past two days.

I grew up in what would be considered rural Massachusetts. Not farm rural, but definitely woods rural. And cranberry bog rural. Beach rural? Beach rural is I think just called "on the coast." In any event, it was definitely the middle of nowhere. Barnstable, MA is a small enough town that it was a clue in a particularly difficult question on an episode of "You Bet Your Life", and Groucho mispronounced it. "Bahwn-STAY-bull? Is it pronounced 'Bahwn-STAY-bull?'" Living in a podunk like Bahwn-STAY-bull (it's "BARN-sta-bull" by the way), I wanted nothing more than to leave for the big city, so naturally I revered Boston (pronounced "CAME-bridge"). Every school field trip to a museum or Revolutionary War monument or aquarium was the best day of my life. Not even the time my girlfriend broke up with me on the way home from the 11th grade trip to the Old North Church could sour my opinion of Boston. Boston was my dream, and someday it would be my home, or at least that was the plan. Aside from a four week stint of Greater Boston Area couch surfing after failing out of Bridgewater State College, I've never really lived in Boston. Don't get me wrong, I really love living in Los Angeles, and it's not like I can't ever move back east, but The Hub is still the city I identify most with. It's a culture of tough, hard-working people, and I'd like to think that I'm at least one, if not both of those things. Probably just hard-working, though.

My Boston is both a place and a feeling. When I was struggling to figure out who I was, Boston was the place that I felt most comfortable. I didn't feel weird or crazy or worthless any of the things I felt when I was at college or back home in Bawhn-STAY-bull. Once I realized that there was a city for people like me, it became my safe place, emotionally. I'm failing out of school. (It's okay, you can always drop out and move to Boston.) I hate my family. (It's okay, you can always run away and move to Boston.) My girlfriend is cheating on me with a guy who lives in Boston. (It's okay, you can break up with her and move to a different part of Boston.) If you can have civic pride for a city you never lived in, I certainly had Boston pride. I love Boston, (historically racist) warts and all.

The attack on Boston was painful in so many ways. The human loss is immeasurably sad and the thought that anyone could contain so much hate is unfathomable. The fact that it happened on Patriots' Day, the biggest Massachusetts state holiday, added a cruel insult to the even crueler injury. I saw the pictures - and I know everyone else has already said this, but seriously don't look at the pictures - and I saw the streets I recognized from so many field trips and college dates covered in blood. Juxtaposed with the beautiful Los Angeles Spring, the whole thing seemed like a nightmare. The next six hours were spent frantically calling, texting, Facebook messaging my friends and family who were almost all in Boston at the time. The scariest part of it for me was being so far away from home. I felt helpless. I still kinda do.

I'm a person who lives a life full of fear and anxiety, but never about real things like terrorism or plane crashes. I'm afraid of snakes and the possibility that my obituary will mention the fact that I produce a history podcast but I still can't spell "Libya." When those fears begin to pile up and weigh heavily in my brain, I close my eyes and think of Boston and suddenly I'm home.

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