The thing about Boston is that it grows on you. I moved here from a small city in the western part of the Spirit of America. Having spent four years in said city – don’t get me wrong it’s a beautiful place and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there – I was looking forward to living a short train ride away from a major city. I had high and – now that I think back to them – unrealistic expectations of what Boston life would be like. Prior to the move, I had visited Boston a few times but hadn’t stayed long enough to fully experience the city. I initially thought that Boston would be a slightly tamer version of New York, a city that I had the opportunity to revel in on a number of occasions. That did not turn out to be the case because Boston is its own special place.
I spent the first few months looking for Boston on Google, you know, trying to find things to do in the city. As a young adult who had just finished college, I was more interested in the social scene – read nightlife – than anything else. It didn’t take long for me and my friends to realize that the nightlife in Boston really is what you make it. We reluctantly embraced that and adjusted accordingly – by looking for other social activities in the area. Now that I think of it – hindsight is 20/20 they say – being disappointed in the nightlife was good for us. It forced us to explore other options. We took up picnicking and had the opportunity to enjoy the local beaches while at it. We got acquainted with Downtown Crossing and its stores. We watched acrobats at Faneuil Hall and Harvard Square. We became foodies and ate at restaurants with non-adult friendly prices. We listened to train platform musicians. We expressed interest in attending festivals but that summer we only made it to the African Festival. That’s the other thing about Boston – it has something for everyone. Much to our own amazement, we were actually enjoying the city. Just like that, Boston had charmed its way into my list of favorite cities. Over the years, we have continued to find many a ways to delight in this city.
Fast forward to present day and I often find myself counting down with much excitement to major events in the city, with the Boston Marathon being my personal favorite. On Marathon Monday, like many others, I was expecting nothing but a great day. The weather was perfect for running unlike last year when the heat gave runners more to worry about than the legendary Heartbreak Hill. It took us – my family and friends – about an hour to navigate the barricaded streets and get to the finish line. After the first few elite runners had crossed the finish line, a number of people began walking away, we were among them. One of my friends and I walked to Faneuil Hall. It was while at a restaurant there that we found out about the bombings. I was shaken up after watching a video of the bombings that we found online. Only a few hours earlier, we had been standing right where the first bomb exploded cheering on our Kenyan athletes. I was still in a state of disbelief by the time I got home. Who would do such a thing and why, more so at a family event, I like many others wondered. Such evil makes one lose some faith in humanity.
I must say that people’s actions, since the explosions, have restored my faith in humanity. From the first responders and civilians who ran towards the explosions to help people to the marathon runners who finished the race and went on to donate blood. The stories of courage and heroism that have come out of this tragedy are all inspirational. There is a couple- a dancer and her boyfriend-that was profiled on the news the other day. He used his body to shield her during the explosion and later carried her to safety. While her leg had to be amputated, she has vowed that she will dance again. What amazed me the most is the positive outlook she maintained as she gave her story. Hers is one of the many stories that are a reminder that tragedy should not define us.
Last week ended on a dramatic note. The entire city was on lockdown as law enforcement searched for one of the suspects of the bombings. He was found hiding in a boat on someone’s backyard. A collective sigh of relief was heard all over Boston and its environs when he was taken into custody. The “Who did this?” was answered on Friday and now we all wait for the “Why?”
Until then, the city is doing its best to move on. There are many people who sustained injuries that will take a long time to recover from. I pray that they have the strength to go through the healing process. There are those who lost loved ones. I pray that they too will have the strength to go through this difficult time and may their loved ones rest in peace.
I believe that Boston is a resilient city that will triumph over this tragedy. That’s the other thing about Boston – it is strong.