I woke up this morning to a scene from a Bruce Willis movie. There was a robbery, an MIT police officer shot and killed, a carjacking, police chase, shoot-outs, even grenades! The entire city of Boston and some of its surrounding communities were on lock-down. With the images of bombed-out Back Bay still fresh in my mind, this insomniac regretted the inability to go back to sleep and escape from the nightmare unfolding.
Of course, I'm watching all of this on my computer 42 miles away from the chaos. My community isn't on lock-down. Police aren't warning me to stay away from my windows. But the very first blog post I ever wrote talked about where I'm from, and I proudly answered the question by saying, "I'm from Boston." I might currently live in New Hampshire, but I'm from Boston. I find a reason to visit my city at least once a month, sometimes more. My kids can recognize the Boston skyline, and they get really excited whenever they see it. They've been asking me all winter when we can go back and have another picnic in Boston and ride on the swan boats again. Spencer plans to attend MIT when he gets older, and Naomi has her heart set on Harvard. (I didn't program them to say this; they came up with it on their own!)
Back Bay is one of my favorite areas of Boston, and it was attacked on Monday. Its media profile has been one of chaos and carnage. I drive through Cambridge nearly every time I go in town, and now that's being associated with the terrorists as well. And Watertown? Watertown is currently experiencing a door to door search by police, with residents being warned to only open the door for uniformed police officers. When I lived in Arlington, Watertown was home to one of my favorite restaurants. It was also the home of a boy I had a serious crush on in high school, and it was where my mother's best friend bought her first house. Now it has SWAT teams and a tank. Those are the images being broadcast to the world.
But that's not my Watertown. This isn't my Boston. I understand that events have happened which are outside of our control and that we must respond to them. I understand that many people's lives have been forever changed by what has happened and is happening this week, and in many ways they will never be the same. In some ways Boston will never be the same; we will always know that it can happen here. But we can incorporate that knowledge without it redefining us.
I've lived in the greater Boston area for more than three quarters of my life. I have lots of memories of the areas that have been affected this week. And I choose to keep my memories unsullied. I won't deny what happened, and I won't forget, but I won't let the events of this week replace everything I know of Boston. I expect Back Bay to be restored. I'm sure it will include some memorial to the victims, as it should, but that memorial will be incorporated into Back Bay. It won't replace Back Bay. Watertown will see the departure of the SWAT teams, guns, and tanks, and go back to being Watertown, with the memory of today slipping into the overall consciousness of the town but eventually losing its power. The T will run again, businesses will reopen, and Boston will again be Boston. We'll continue our fierce rivalry with New York, exchanging boasts and insults as we always have, but knowing that when things get serious we've got each other's back.
As soon as the weather's nice enough I'm going to take my kids to the Boston Public Gardens so we can have a picnic like we did last year, and ride on the swan boats again. I'm going to drive past MIT and Harvard, and listen to my kids talk about their futures. ("Does M-I-T spell MIT?" Hey, he's only four!) We'll go back to the Children's Museum, the Science Museum, and I think it's time I introduce them to the Museum of Fine Arts. We'll probably go back to Symphony Hall for Cartoon Fest next October. Because all of that is MY BOSTON, and I'm not going to give it up that easily.
The world is looking at Boston and calling it terror and chaos. And right now it is. But that's only temporary. I know what Boston really is, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again.