Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Unless you have been living under a rock, you heard about the horrible bombings at the Boston Marathon last week and likely were following the manhunt for the two suspects.
In what may be a case of the worst timing ever, the boy and I had a vacation pre-scheduled in Boston for last week and we had the extra bad luck of booking a hotel in Watertown - scene of the suspect standoff and eventual capture. Our hotel was, in fact, less than 1/2 mile away from where the suspect was found in the backyard boat, so subsequently we were locked down for most of the day Friday and entertained by a constant symphony of sirens and helicopter noise, tv news vans and reporters outside. Since we only had barely two days in Boston anyway, this meant that over half of our vacation was lost and we came home in a bit of a haze, both from the insanity of the events we witnessed and were smack-dab in the middle of, and due to the fact that most of the previous 4 days were spent either driving or watching the news.
Yes, I am complaining - it sucked! But that's not the point of this post. The point is the experience oddly made me love Boston even more.
This was my third visit to the city. Before this, I could tell you that I loved Boston but could not necessarily pinpoint the exact reasons why. Sure, there is undeniably great history and architecture, parks and museums, restaurants and shopping. In a way, the city reminds me of a large-scale version of my hometown of Halifax - a city with the down-to-earthiness of a small town, a working class/sea-faring past and the character that comes along with that.
However, now I understand. It's the people that make this city great. They are warm and welcoming and will talk to you as if you're an old friend even if it's your first conversation. Many would take the clothes off their back and give them to you if you really needed them. They are there for each other and value hard work. At the same time, they have an edge - they are a down-home, potty-mouthed, hard-drinking lot who, basically, don't take shit (I mean this with love).
Both sides of this mixed character were highlighted during the hysteria of the bombings and the aftermath. The selflessness, support, and strength of the citizens warmed my heart - countless people organized donations and events to show solidarity to the victims and their loved ones, to say 'we are with you and you are in our prayers'. Then the tenacity and ruthlessness that was displayed during the hunt for the suspects left me in awe and made me want to pump my fist in the air and say, 'yeah! You go!'. They were not going to let these men get away with this and I loved that commitment. I loved the fact that they did not 'fuck around' but that they did so in a way that put the safety and well-being of everyone in the city first and foremost.
It's that mix - the hard and soft, the tough and loving - that makes the people of Boston great. Sure, our vacation was kind of ruined, but I never once felt concerned for my safety or that the situation was not under control. Did I hate being cooped up in our hotel room all day and having to miss the Red Sox game (which was scheduled for Friday but subsequently postponed)? Of course! But I appreciated the care and precautions taken. I felt comforted that the job would get done and done right.
There are so many things being written about these incidents - so many opinions and analyses floating around out there, and I don't want to add to that pile. Honestly, I kind of just want to move on from this, as I am sure we all do (although I should reiterate that 'move on' does not mean 'forget'). I just felt compelled, in my own small way, to thank the people of Boston for being, well, them. For being strong and loving and, in true Boston fashion, giving the finger to those that tried to ruin their lives.
Thank you for making great what little vacation we ended up having.