To Boston, with love

An ex-Bostonian shares some thoughts in the wake of yesterday’s bombing.

Projection by The Illuminator on the side of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, April 15, 2013

Projection by The Illuminator on the side of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, April 15, 2013 Photograph: Lucky Tran

Home is a slippery word. It’s the place where you live, of course, but it’s also all the places that have come before that. Before moving to New York last February, I spent six years of my life in Boston (and four years before that at a college just outside of town). During that time, it was my business—and my pleasure—to get to know the city intimately as a journalist for various publications around the city, including as associate editor of the now-defunct Time Out Boston.

And there’s nothing that speaks more to the spirit of the place (with the possible exception of the Fluff Festival) than the Boston Marathon. Patriots’ Day, Massachusetts’ very own historic holiday, is when Bostonians everywhere remove well-sharpened noses from grindstones. It may be a city driven by an unshakable puritan work ethic, but its residents know how to give themselves a break—complete with an early Red Sox game, a whole lot of day-drinking and one of the most venerable, magnanimous athletic events in the world (with a colorful history to boot). It’s the one day of the year when Boston truly lives up to the grandiose nickname bestowed upon it by Oliver Wendell Holmes: the Hub of the Universe.

I’m certainly not the first to express this sentiment, and I won’t be the last; but the photographs of lurid red spatter on Boylston Street just east of Exeter, a spot I’ve walked over more times than I could count, elicited a bone-deep, gut-twisting sense of violation. To watch the senseless violence—and subsequent boundless kindness—unfold from 200-plus miles away is to feel particularly displaced and helpless. But the city rose to the occasion—from the first responders who sprang immediately into action to the nearly 6,000 people who offered up their foldout couches and spare beds to stranded runners.

Though I don’t live there anymore, Boston will always be my home. And I believe that in the days to come, yesterday will be remembered not just as a moment of horrific tragedy, but as the day when Boston proved itself to be one of the most resilient, capable and caring cities around. Check out our guide for information on what you can do to help.