Growing up in Rhode Island I always liked Boston. But I fell in love with Boston when I was twenty. I drove down from my college in Vermont in an old Volvo wagon with two of my professors and some fellow psychology students. We attended a conference at Boston University. I loved every minute of it - especially during lunchtime when I walked around the campus. As I stood looking across Storrow Drive to the Charles River, I distinctly remember thinking I might have chosen to enroll in the wrong college.
A decade later Chuck and I began spending lots of time together in Boston and its adjacent sprawl. Concerts at Symphony Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Ethiopian restaurant that used to be on the corner of Huntington and Mass Ave, the fountains of “Vatican Boston” (First Church of Christ Scientist), the Boston Public Library, oysters at Legal Sea Foods, exhibits at the New England School of Photography, lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum, Dim Sum on Sunday morning in Chinatown, the Hatch Shell on July Third, Anthony’s Pier Four, Sami’s Felafel truck in the Longwood Medical area, the JFK Library, the T as we changed trains from Red Line to Green Line, New England Aquarium, Mass Horticultural Society’s once annual Flower Show, Fenway Park, the Purple Shamrock, the Franklin Park Zoo, Waterman’s Funeral Home, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, the Museum of Science, Hilton’s Tent City, Strega’s and Bova in the North End, Tower Records and Newbury Street, the old Institute of Contemporary Art on Boylston Street, the USPS near South Station at Fort Point which was - or seemed to be - open 24/7, the Tall Ships at the Black Falcon Pier and walking together in Labor Rallies and Marches on the streets of Boston.
We saw Ástor Piazzolla at Northeastern, Candide at the Huntington, The Dance Troupe of Senegal at the Strand in Dorchester, Alvin Ailey at the Wang, Sweeney Todd at the Colonial.
Yes, we always knew how to get over the Salt and Pepper Bridge to Cambridge and the American Repertory Theater for the abstruse and the accessible, Harvard’s Memorial Hall for Christmas Revels, Asmara for Ethiopian and Eritrean food, every square inch of Harvard Square, Passim, The Coop, Au Bon Pain and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
I never lived in Boston. But I fell in love with Chuck there. Everywhere we went was a new experience together. Over and over we had the chance to confirm how much we had in common and how different we were from one another. Each adventure brought us closer together; each adventure clarified that we were, in fact, bashert.
Today we live closer to Worcester than Boston. But today we felt our hearts break as our Boston was attacked. We felt wrenching pain as the situation unfolded on our radios, computers and television screens. We went through a blessedly brief yet intense period of worrying as we tried to sort out where a niece was and where our neighbors and their daughter - running the Marathon for the first time - were. All are safe and sound.
We heeded the wise words of Mr. Fred Roger’s: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” There were so many helpers. The first responders who ran toward the blasts; the ordinary citizens who administered first aid and comfort to victims; the EMTs, doctors, nurses, medical students who triaged and treated; the Boston Police, the State Troopers, the FBI and the National Guard.
We don’t yet know who struck this vicious blow against the city of Boston, against the cheering children and adults, against the tenacious, spent athletes and against our nation. Wherever it originated - at home or abroad - we know it was an act of terror and evil. We also know that Boston, the Commonwealth and our country will go on - once again scarred, but resilient and unbowed.