(I WROTE THIS YESTERDAY.)
So, today I had about 17, 432 things to do. All of them urgent. But instead of doing any of them, which my head kept telling me to do, I did something my heart has been nagging at me to do. I wrote Boston a little note and I brought it down to the makeshift memorial at Copley Square, a few blocks from the marathon bombings.
I have been feeling a need to go there, to familiar Boylston street, the place where Boston’s history changed a few weeks ago. Much of my history is there, as well. I used to live 30 seconds away, on Newbury Street. In fact, when I lived there, I watched lots of Boston Marathons standing at the finish line. It’s also a street where I’d once waitressed, the location of my first job after college at a small design firm, and my first copywriting job at the advertising agency I would meet my husband because of. I had banked, and eaten and shopped and walked Boylston Street a million times. It runs through the heart of the city, like a fancy ribbon. And today, burdened by a laundry list of stuff to do, not to mention laundry, and waking up to the kind of New England weather that we New Englanders live for, I decided to ditch my “shoulds” and put my sneakers on and go and pay it a visit.
Walking through Boston is fun. When I lived downtown, I never had a car. In fact, I didn’t even own a car until I was 30, because I walked absolutely everywhere. Brookline, where I live, is right next to Boston, and on foot, it takes just about an hour to hit Boylston Street. This is the sort of thing I used to do a lot when I was younger and had more time on my hands (and feet). I went through the medical area and saw one of my neighbors, a doctor, like 100 feet large, advertising one of the hospitals. His happy face above the words “human first.” I strolled by Children’s, boasting that it had been named the number one children’s hospital in the country, and I thought about how lucky we are to live five minutes from this mecca of medicine. Holding my poster, I passed the doctor’s building who helped me to have Jake and Ally, my husband’s old lab, and then the Gardener Museum. I cut through the Fenway, and turned up on the far end of Boylston, after witnessing a flock of geese fighting in the muddy river (They were pissed. I don’t know if someone’s husband cheated, but it sounded like that might be it). Boylston was teeming with people. I walked by my old cross street, and thought about how much had changed since this had been my neighborhood for seven years after college.
I reached the block of the first bombing, but didn’t see much evidence, except that of The Forum Restaurant, which was still closed, but had a sign outside reading “Forum Strong, Coming Back Soon”. Next door, at Max Brenner’s restaurant, which was open, there were three Boston Red Sox logos with the word “strong” underneath. Other than that, the block seemed its usual bustling, busy self. I was surprised by its normalcy. And then I crossed over Exeter to the block where the finish line bombing occurred, and I tried to imagine it. There were some workmen fixing some windows that had been blown out. And several different signs in the windows of stores. But mostly, everything was open, including Marathon Sports. The library looked undaunted, a large and monolithic majesty, filled with so much knowledge, you could feel it. The footage and photos I’d seen hundreds of times had taken place live where I was standing. But today it was filled with school kids visiting the scene, and other Bostonians going about their business. I did hear several snippets of conversation that were clearly about the life changing event that took place on that cement, and at least 5 people with t-shirts on that said “Boston Strong.”
I crossed Boylston to Copley and was surprised not only by the humber of people, but by the number of posters, flowers, momentos and sneakers I saw. I hadn’t imagined the memorial area would be so large and it shocked me. I walked around, dodging tv cameras and people posing for photos. I picked a sweet little tree and put my poster there. Here’s what it said:
We’ve been through a lot together over the past 30 years– you and I. And I realized just how much I loved you a few weeks ago, when some people tried to turn you into a tragedy, a place to be feared. You stood up proudly, and said, “FUHGETIT. WE’LL PAAAHK AH CAAAAAHS ON YEH HEAD, YOU TRY ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN.”
Love to all the people of this city. Loving and healing thoughts to all who were injured and affected.
I stood for a moment, looking around at the hundreds of people taking in the kindness and support that had turned a corner of Copley Square into a reminder of Boston’s latest history. I looked around and remembered when I used to lay on the grass that was once Copley Square, and eat my lunch or take in the rays, during a work day. I’d grown up here, been here hundreds of times, but this time was distinctly different. And with the shining sun, and the crowds around me, I took a deep breath, and walked over to the T (although full disclosure, not before going to The Tannery). I put my Charlie card in the slot, and climbed onto the train. Brookline was where I lived, but Boston would always be my home.