As I sit here, the Red Sox are on the road, taking on the Cleveland Indians, wearing black bands on their sleeves in order commemorate the victims of the horror show that took place in Boston yesterday.
I don’t know how to cope with something like this. I know that I was at work, a rarity on Patriot’s Day, but that if I hadn’t, I might’ve been down at Kenmore Square, hanging out at the Baseball Tavern or the Lansdowne Pub watching the Red Sox matinee with the Tampa Bay Rays. And after the game, yeah, maybe I would’ve walked down with my friends to Copley Square to take in more of the race.
I do know that on Sunday, I had a great day at the park. More than a dozen of us bought tickets on the right field roof deck at Fenway Park, and as I scored along, I noticed that Clay Buccholz had a no-hitter going through seven innings. After quietly noting that to a couple of my friends with particular baseball savvy, I thought to myself how Buccholz has a tendency to pitch well when I’m in the stands, and how, even with a cold wind blowing in, that there’s nothing quite like being in Fenway when the Red Sox are rolling along.
When I didn’t live in Massachusetts or even along the Red Line, I always wore my love of Boston on my sleeve, and often quite literally. I displayed my pride in the city with stories of hanging out in Quincy, or with my affinity for Dunkin Donuts coffee, but most commonly, I got to do it with sports. I’d wear my Bruins jersey often. I’d bring a Red Sox cap everywhere. I wanted people to know that Boston was a part of me, and that I never really wanted to leave.
I’m back here, and the only thought I could muster in the moment, beyond the terror and the fear and the sadness, was how proud I was and always am of Boston. It can seem like a loud, boorish place to outsiders; everyone’s loud, no one knows how to drive, every other word out of our mouths seems to be “fuckin’” or “bullshit” or “asshole.” But it’s a well-worn exterior. This area is really a family; it’s more a community than a city, displayed in the way that in addition to Boston and its neighborhoods — Roxbury, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Southie, the South End, Eastie, the North End, Charlestown, Beacon Hill, Allston, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Mattapan, etc. — the surrounding community is just as much part of Boston. With few exceptions, if you can call Quincy, Braintree, Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, Watertown, Dedham, Medford, Milton, Arlington, Lexington, Concord, Woburn, Winchester, Reading, Chelsea, Everett, Weymouth or any number of small towns and cities I’m not thinking of right now home, then you’re from Boston, too.
And that much was obvious in the immediate aftermath. The stories of people putting themselves in harm’s way to help others, runners running to hospitals, folks opening their homes to those displaced, they’re numerous and real and heartbreaking. We were always in this together.
And so, here we are. Some of us were down at Copley yesterday, some of us were at work, some of us were watching on TV. Some of us know people who were hurt or killed. Some of us were those people. But we’re all in this together now. And we’re all trying to pull together and move on.
So tonight, the Red Sox are playing, and it’s an hour or two of distraction. And they’re playing for their city. It’s a small thing, but right now, it feels good. It’s a start.