|Boston Public Library Courtyard, March 2013|
Boston is where I'm from. It's not only the geography of my first eighteen years on this planet, it's also shaped who I am. I owe Boston my direct, no b.s. approach to people and my sense of the world as inclusive of many different nations. Growing up, my neighborhood was a mixture of Chinese, Jewish, and Irish Americans --- all more or less getting along together. There were also African Americans who I babysat for and German Americans across the street. I was a kid, what did I know? I somehow knew I had a pretty good life.
Boston is a small town with a big town reputation. When I worked at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) on Arlington Street (a couple of block's from today's bombing) I would walk through the Back Bay, through the Gardens and the Boston Commons. At Park Street Station I turned left to Government Center and then under the freeway via tunnel to the North End. I was never in a hurry as this was one of the best parts of the job: delivering course catalogues to the North End Community Center which doubled as a BCAE satellite campus on weeknights. In just forty-five minutes I could cover all of downtown. My town.
Last month I returned to Copley Square to participate in the Associated Writing Program Conference (AWP) along with 12,000 other writers. The weekend was also a celebration of my partner's birthday. On our last afternoon in Boston we strolled through the neighborhoods together under a perfect sky --- snow still fresh enough to look picturesque.
I could never have imagined that five weeks later downtown Boston would resemble Beirut.
Tonight no one knows who is behind the bombings targeting the Boston Marathon --- an event that is both local and global at once. My heart goes out to to the city that has always seemed indestructible to me, to the people that are the toughest and kindest of any I've known, to the two people killed and 86 injured (these numbers are early estimates) at the Marathon today.
My heart is bruised.
However, I know Boston will not be defeated . One of the stories I heard tonight was from a doctor who was treating people brought in from the areas hit. He said there was a sense of everyone helping each other. Whether this meant dressing wounds for one another or helping people contact loved ones on borrowed cell phones, the doctor said it struck him that people were in this together.
All my love and prayers to you tonight.