This post originally ran on my law school blog on April 20, 2013 - the Saturday after the marathon bombing in Boston. I was a first-year law student living on the other side of the country from my home state of Massachusetts. With the three-year anniversary of the attacks upon us, I felt it was time to run it once more.
"I'm from Boston."
This is usually the answer I give no matter where I'm currently living in the country. I mean technically I'm not. My small Massachusetts town is about 50 miles south of Boston. I do it for a couple reasons, though:
- It's a lot easier than: "I'm from a little town in Massachusetts called Seekonk... No, like See-konk. ...Yea, it's a funny name.... It's right on the line with Rhode Island.... No that's not in New York..... Have you heard of Providence, Rhode Island?.... No, it's not actually an island..."
Sometimes I feel like I'm being less than truthful. And of course there are always those awkward moments of "You're from Boston? Shut up! I'm from Somerville!" [awkward pause] "Oh... yeah, then I'm not from Boston." Because really - I'm not.
On Monday morning, I woke up and logged onto Facebook while still in bed. My newsfeed was covered in excited posts about the Marathon. I had friends running, encouraging their friends who were participating or just shipping up to Boston to cheer everyone on. Hours later I was sitting in the Oregon Law Library when the first scary reports began popping up. It was all so unclear in the beginning. However, reading the words "so many people are missing limbs" made me shake. It appeared that everyone I knew was safe, but I didn't feel better. My boyfriend (also a Massachusetts resident) hugged me and I started to cry.
"I'm being so stupid. I know all my friends are fine. Why am I this shaken up? It's not even like I'm really from there." I said with my face pushed into his shirt.
"Of course you are. That's our city," he said.
He's right. It is our city.
- It's the city I went on countless field trips to throughout my childhood, learning about our country's brash beginnings.
- It's the city where I slurped down Dunkin Donuts after a long night of partying at Northeastern and BU. (It's also the city where I looked for my car for three hours that morning.)
- It's the city where I got lost trying to find a bar near Fenway on a cold September night. I was wearing a tiny sparkly top and spiked heels. A game was ending and Yawkey Way was bustling. "Sweethaaat! You gotta be freezing!! What're you looking for?" I was directed to the House of Blues by a bunch of guys straight out of a Ben Affleck movie.
- It's the city I pretend to know how to navigate whenever I have out-of-town friends visiting. (Quincy Marketplace is the only place I can confidently find. And really? What else do you need?)
But all these experiences make it my city. However, so many people I've met who connect to Boston have never even been there. So I started to wonder what makes people from coast to coast connect to our city. I came up with plenty.
- It's the city where rebels threw chests of tea into the Harbor to protest injustice and kick-started the American Revolution.
- It's the city that scraped together a tiny, inexperienced militia that took on the British army in Lexington and Concord. And won.
- It's the city that protected slaves who had escaped from the South and helped fire up the abolition movement.
- It's the city where a woman attempted to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. When officials physically grabbed her to pull her off the course, the male runners around her fought them off.
- It's the city whose mayor publicly rejected a fast food chain that had openly discriminated against the LBGT community, stating there is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail.
And of course, it's the city that ran towards the victims on Monday. Creating tourniquets from their own t-shirts. Carrying them to safety. And in some cases, bravely staying with them while they passed away.
And yesterday, it was the city that retreated into their homes. Not in fear, but in quiet faith of their police force.
So much of what our country stands for is found in Boston's history and throughout its streets today. As Americans we are bold, brave and yes, a little rebellious. We fight for our own rights and the rights of everyone else, even when it's unpopular. And this week, when the city that started it all was attacked, the nation stopped. Because an attack on Boston is an attack on everything we value. And true to form, Boston stayed strong while they brought down the suspects. No one expected less.
So the next time I get riled up at lunch and accidently drop an "R" at the end of a word, much to the amusement of my West Coast friends, I'll be proud.
Because I'm from Boston. But then again, aren't we all?