I’m a New Hampshire native. I grew up in a cute town that was 30 minutes from the ocean, 60 minutes from the mountains and ten steps from the woods. Boston was my “home away from home” – it was the destination for field trips, Sox games, and where I ultimately went to college. For years, I wove together the memories of early mornings rowing along the Charles River with late nights singing with my a cappella group under a brilliant skyline, and cheering runners on during the Boston Marathon.
My husband teases me when I tell people I’m from Boston. I didn’t grow up there, like some. I didn’t own my first apartment there, or fall in love there. But I did make my home there for a period of time in my life. And it was a wonderful time.
The tragic event that occurred at this year’s Boston Marathon has pierced the hearts of those who lay claim to the city, and will form a scar for years to come. Today, let us share our memories, experiences and thoughts during this difficult time with our global sisters. Read some of the stories that have been shared and add your own in the comments section below.
We are women around the world, and today our hearts are united with Boston.
In love and solidarity,
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
“My Third Parent”
In my more rueful and nostalgic moments, I’ve been known to call Boston my “third parent.” In the same way that I glean and adopt rituals taught to me as a child from those closest to me, this city has imbued tangible and lasting iconographies into the fabric of my life. I’ve always lived within a 20-mile radius of her, and she in turn has given me a legacy that I am proud to enjoy and experience every time I cross the Bunker Hill Bridge or walk the Freedom Trail.
It’s no mistake that the Boston Marathon takes place on Patriot’s Day, a holiday commemorating the beginning of the American Revolution in a hotbed of political and social change. When Longfellow wrote of Paul Revere’s ride at the advent of this first battle, he described the tenacity of a people determined not to submit to oppression; it was, “A voice in the darkness” that rang out. I was driving away from Wellesley College’s iconic “scream tunnel” when I first heard of the explosions—now described as bombings—at the finish line. I was confused and heartbroken and terrified; yet between the voicemails and Facebook posts and twitter status updates and text messages, I’ve seen messages of love and strength, not fear. These were the voices that arose above the confusion.
Boston might be my third parent, but she has many, many more children. And yesterday, the children of Boston grew up. They grew up and carried the city through one of the worst days in her history. The sight in Copley Square was that of people running towards the explosion to help, running to Mass General to give blood, running towards loved ones and strangers alike to give comfort. This is no elegy for Boston, because she is alive and thriving; her legacy and history are not the only things of which she can be proud.
“The whole nation has been affected”
I’ve run the Boston Marathon twice, once in 2009 and another last year, in 2012. As a runner, especially a marathoner, you strive to qualify for Boston. When I ran my first marathon in 2009 I didn’t even understand the hype behind the Boston Marathon. I was new to the whole running world, so when I qualified on my first marathon I was honored and I couldn’t give up the opportunity to run Boston in 2009 and be a part of such a historic and memorable race. Because I had the experience I did in 2009 I couldn’t help but run it again in 2012.
That was a bittersweet year: temperatures rose to almost 90 degrees and the BAA was urging runners not to run. I was torn, but I knew that I trained so hard that I couldn’t pass it up. I opted to run with my brother-in-law, who was running his first-ever marathon. I cannot express how amazing it was for me to not only run Boston again but experience running it with him.
The BAA puts on such an amazing event and that truly showed last year, but the race would not be what it was without the fans along the race. The fans truly got me and my brother-in-law last year. We had people offering us ice and hoses to stay cool. Local community firefighters opened hydrants and made water tunnels to help! This experience was amazing and proof that people could pull together and how important the Boston community views such a historic race. Sadly I thought last year would go down in history because it was the hottest and something like this happens. I am blessed I decided to take some time off and wasn’t there but the whole running community and the whole nation has been affected by this.
“I Chose Boston”
I chose Boston. I grew up in North Carolina, but I enrolled in college here. I went to school at Wellesley College, drawn by the beautiful campus, dedicated professors and the city of Boston. I loved going to see Shakespeare on the Commons, roaming Newbury Street, attending performances by Yo Yo Ma (this is his adopted hometown too) and watching the marathons. During my four years at Wellesley, I spent Marathon Monday cheering the runners on until I lost my voice. Two years ago after a short stint in Baltimore, I chose to return to Boston for grad school. It felt like coming home. It felt safe and wonderful and familiar. I enrolled at UMass, utterly thrilled to be back.
I love my city and I love my school, but I am not going to UMass Boston today. As the university informed me early this morning, the campus is closed as “law enforcement officials continue to investigate yesterday’s incident at the JFK Library.” I am home safe, like I was home yesterday. Except today I will not be spending four hours checking to make sure all my friends are safe. They are all safe, and yet it pains me to know that other people’s families are not. It pains me to know that this city, which I care so much about, has been irrevocably changed.
On 9-11 two planes took off from Logan, but they did not land here. We were touched by that tragedy too. Five to ten years ago, I remember meeting a woman in an elevator at the Boston Ritz-Carlton. She was wearing a colored ribbon, a color I did not recognize, not pink for breast cancer or red for AIDS. I asked her about the ribbon and she told me that “her husband had died in September 11th”. She pointed to her child: “her father,” she added. My heart broke then and it breaks now for the city and for the families whose loved ones are not coming home, and others whose loved ones who are coming home changed, with memories they would rather not have.
While I ponder why someone would do something so terrible, a question I think we all inevitably ask ourselves at such times, I also take solace in the great stories of selflessness and self-sacrifice that abound. There were individuals who rushed to scene unconcerned with their own safety to help others, there were runners, already worn out from the race, running to the hospitals to give blood, and ordinary Bostonians opening their homes to strangers who were stranded by these events. Amazing people in an amazing city, or, as I tend to think of it, just three more reasons to love Boston.
Featured image courtesy of Melissa Spencer