I’ve lived in Boston for almost 15 years now. I love it, in the complicated way that you love something or someone that irritates the hell out of you sometimes.
Yes, there are many great things about Boston…and friendliness is not one of them. No, I wouldn’t call Boston a “friendly” city. There are many friendly people…but, overall, I haven’t felt much of a “community” vibe over the years. So I felt touched as I walked the streets today and every other person was wearing clothing bearing an iteration of the Boston Strong message. Today we celebrated the strength of 36,000 runners as well as the strength of the entire city. Today we were a community saying “This is our f’ing city.”
A couple of days ago, Mary and I visited an exhibit of items left at the makeshift memorial in Copley Square after the bombings. As I’ve mentioned, I was sick during that time period, so I didn’t realize to what extent the world reached out to us in the aftermath until I walked through this exhibit. We made our way through the room, viewing the sneakers that runners left behind; the signed cards, posters, and T-shirts that people from around the world sent; the scraps of paper with kind messages scrawled on them. At the end of the exhibit, visitors were invited to sign a guestbook or write messages on tags and hang them on trees.
The exhibit was thoughtfully and beautifully curated, and I’m so glad I saw it. It reminded me that love is stronger than hate.
Today, six or seven hours after the race had started, I was headed to the subway stop in my neighborhood, which is along the marathon route. I was surprised to see runners still coming through. They had two miles left, and most of them were walking. It was a powerful image that I will always carry with me.