If you ask Boston College students why they’re running the Marathon this year, chances are that their response isn’t going to be “Just for the fun of it” or “Just to say I did.” The more likely answer is probably something that has to do with last year’s attacks, along the lines of “To show that we’re still strong,” or, more simply, “For Boston.”
It’s all for Boston, the place we call our home for four years of our lives. Whether we stay here after graduation or not, Boston, or at least Chestnut Hill, is probably going to mean something special to every BC grad, especially after we all saw how the city came together last year in response to the bombing at the Marathon’s finish line.
I’m not running-I could hardly go a mile during my high school track days without complaining-but I’ll be cheering the runners on from the sidewalk at both Marathons this year, because for now, I’m a Bostonian, too. There is a city I’ll have in mind while watching the marathons, and it’s different from everybody else’s version because it’s made up of a different combination of places and people that I’d never want to see hurt or completely gone.
There’s a special place for the T in my Boston, and no, I’m not talking about a special place in hell. I adore the T. It’s the reason I know Boston better than I know my own hometown, because I’m rather terrified of driving anywhere in LA and there’s not much for public transportation out there. Add the T to that mix, and all of the sudden the rickety B line looks pretty spectacular. For all of its flaws, it’s a $2 ticket to a city I’m still not done exploring.
One of my best friends and I found the Make Way For Ducklings statue in Boston Common last week. I’d always heard about it, but had never seen it, and I’m so glad we stumbled on it. Sitting on a bench in front of the ducks and watching all of the little kids making their pilgrimages to the statue made my day. It’s almost like an unwritten rule that every small child, upon seeing the ducks, must sit on them. Some kids weren’t picky and just plunked themselves down on the nearest baby duck. Others went straight for the tall mama duck’s sloping back-off of which I was convinced one would eventually tumble-and one equal-opportunity kid decided to sit on every single one for a few seconds. It was hilarious and wonderful -and a beautiful reminder that I’m not the only one in love with Boston. Even the toddlers know there’s something different about it.
I think it goes to show that Boston is more of a community than people give it credit for being. Before moving here for school, I’d heard that New Englanders were cold, antisocial people whose very souls have been blown away by the icy winter winds, but I’ve yet to encounter anyone who fits that description. Maybe I’m just sheltered. Maybe that Boston belongs to a different time and place, where dropped Rs were more common. The people I see and talk to every day are never anything but kind, barring, of course, the usual bad days everyone has. The same day my friend and I laughed with the kids riding ducks on Boston Common, we wandered into a shop on Newbury St. whose sole employee was the man who owned it and never held regular hours because he liked to leave time to do his “daily affirmations” every morning. We were fascinated by all of the jewelry and paintings and knick-knacks he had in the shop. He talked to us for almost an hour about everything-from how he stays in business to his philosophy on life. I think people in LA are too busy to do that.
Another thing that Bostonians are exceptionally good at is appreciating warm weather. After a winter as dark as the one that we just had, it’s refreshing not only to have some sunshine at last, but to see the shorts and sunglasses and picnics that everyone seems to be having in celebration. It’s really the little things that make Boston so amazing, and the regular change of season is one of them.
And there is, of course, a BC in my Boston. It’s a microcosm of the city that’s barely five miles away, full of interesting people with big ideas who are ready to make a difference, even if it’s just on campus. It’s diverse, it’s welcoming, and it, like Boston, is a place that I am hesitant to ever leave-a place that I and thousands of others will be celebrating during the marathons.