“The boarded up windows, The empty street, While my brother’s down on his knees, My city of Ruins”, Bruce Springsteen wrote these lyrics to the song My City of Ruins in 2000 for a show he did for a benefit for Asbury Park. After he performed the song at the Tribute to Heroes concert in the aftermath of 9/11, the song took a whole new meaning. Bruce is and probably always will be my go to music selection when I need a quick fix to any mood I am in at the moment. I loved the song, but after yesterday, it resonates in a far different way than I had ever wanted to imagine.
Boston has always been my city. Growing up on the South Shore, Boston gleamed in the distance like the Land of OZ. It was the place where everything magical happened and wonder occurred. There were no professional baseball teams in smaller cities, concerts were not held in the suburbs, you wanted to do anything “fun” as a teenager growing up, you needed to go to Boston. I do remember my first recollection of going to the city with my parents. I was little and it was shortly after the famous stabbing death of a Harvard football player in the Combat Zone. I remember hearing about it on the news. I also recall my dad parking on Washington Street and pointing out that the Combat Zone was down the street. I remember this because I thought I was going to see tanks and soldiers in that part of the city. I had no idea that the Combat Zone had any other meaning.
As I grew, my parents allowed me to travel into Boston to explore the city and make it my own. We were fortunate that if we couldn’t get our parents to give us a ride, we had our choice; we could ride the T to Braintree or take the BAT bus to Ashmont. The ride on the bus was always filled with excitement to go to Boston. It was there I learned how to score a baseball game, how hot the Garden got during the summertime, that there was no cooler place on earth than Newbury Comics and that the greatest art museum is the Gardner. I witnessed my own British Invasion in the form of the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Halloween was never the same after experiencing Rocky Horror Picture at the Exeter.
As I got older, I would go to Boston every weekend to meet my now wife at Boston College. Together and with family and friends, we enjoyed the night like every college kid should. We went to clubs, to bars, to dives, enjoyed cold tea in Chinatown and continued to enjoy the city to the fullest. As we got older, the city has always been a time away. Boston is a place to bring the kids and let them have fun in ways possible nowhere else. The Swan boats, duck boats, JFK Library, Museum of Science, the Children’s Museum milk bottle and Fenway Park can’t be found just anywhere.
I started working full time in the city in the early 1990’s and have enjoyed every minute of it. I love just leaving the office and wandering over to Fenway, calling friends to say that I have tickets last minute to an event or meeting people for a beer after work. I freely admit that I hate the commute at times but the overall fun of working in the city has always outweighed the one drawback.
One other important point! Whenever I am away and am asked where I am from, I always answer Boston. Not to disrespect Middleboro or where I grew up but nobody knows the names of those towns. Everyone knows Boston. When you tell someone you are from Boston, one of two things happen. They will tell you that they have been there and name a place that they loved or they tell you they want to go and why. It never fails. Even with the most ardent of Yankee Fans!
That said; yesterday hit me in a way I never expected. I work at a Hotline that deals with the most horrible experience one can imagine. I have been parts of teams that have prepared and trained for events like this for quite some time. What hit me hard was the realization that my son and some other kids I know were afraid of Boston. That pierced me like a dagger through my heart. As I left for the office this morning, hearing him tell me to be safe bothered me in ways unimaginable yesterday morning. I want every kid to understand that Boston is magical and opens doors that we can never see in small towns. In my mind, it was my own version of Disneyland.
I will work my ass off to make sure those kids understand that we all lose if we are afraid! Not short term fear, we all understand that but we must live our lives to the fullest to crush whoever these cowardly bastards are. I REFUSE TO LET THEM TAKE MY CITY AWAY!
Two quick things to show all of you;
In my job, I have had the great opportunity of my life to work with first responders. I admire and respect them. I also work a lot with the Boston Police Department. They did an outstanding job yesterday and made us all proud.
Secondly, I am still very much angry and filled with rage. I apologize for the profanity but this sums us how I feel perfectly!