I thought I was fine, but as I lay my head down on my pillow last night, the tears started flowing. I think of eight-year-old Martin Richard, who lived on Carruth Street, the same street where my grandparents lived for decades and just a short jaunt from my childhood home on Milton Street. I think of the excitement I had at that age of going “in town” with my mom, taking the T out of my little world of Cedar Grove and into the bustling metropolis beyond.
I think of being a young teenager, considering myself badass for meandering the Back Bay after class at Boston Latin; a young urban sophisticate in my mind swaggering down Boylston and Newbury. I think of my first summer job at the aquarium and the pride I had in showing people from around the world a piece of my city.
I think of Marathon Mondays at BC—the excitement, the revelry. I think of the year I spent hours screaming words of encouragement to runners at the conclusion of Heartbreak Hill; my voice sore and my head pounding from cheering on fellow Eagles, friends, young guys exuberantly doling out high-fives as their adrenaline pumps. I think of the older woman struggling, my words of encouragement unexpectedly receiving a response. “Thank you…thank you…thank you,” she said while quickly grasping my hand, her strength wavering but her determination intact—the voices and cheers from the crowd acting as a bulkhead that wouldn’t let her slip away.
I received a forwarded e-mail yesterday telling of a BC alumnus, a few years older than me, and his wife having each lost a leg on Monday. He took part in the same OL program I did. He most likely spent his Marathon Mondays at BC the same way, loving every minute of it.
Boston is the only place I’ll ever be able to truly call home. I think of the evening spent in the home of a West Roxbury couple, both Duke graduates, hosting me in an informational interview as part of my application there. At one point the wife said, “No matter where you end up, or for how long, when you come back to Boston, it will still feel like home. You come back and it feels like you never left.” The husband, not from the area, chimed in and said, “She’s right, and she’s lucky to be from here.”
I’ve been frustrated with the city, bored of the city, suffocated by it, embarrassed by some of its actions, proud of it, fascinated by it, in awe of its beauty, its history, its heritage. Boston is family and when family hurts, I hurt. I didn’t want to make myself part of this. I was safely tucked away in my office in the financial district on Monday afternoon and everyone I know and love was unharmed. But here I am, part of this. We all are.
Adam Feeney lives in Cedar Grove.