I went into the city on April 20th. It was the day after a city-wide lockdown, five days after a worldwide tragedy. My roommate needed a birthday present for her boyfriend, so I said I would come with. We didn’t find one. But I found a whole lot of other things, things that weren’t debris or tears, things that reminded me that my beloved Boston still stands strong.
They are everywhere. And they are all cute. Apologies to my roommate for pointing out every single one.
2) The clock tower behind Faneuil Hall
It glows at night and it hasn’t stopped ticking all week.
The Boston Commons are breathtaking in springtime. The air smells new, people are sitting on the grass, and everything is colored in where winter had been black and white.
4) Make Way for Ducklings
The baby ones are decked out in bright-colored hats, with Mama Duck wearing her marathon medal like she just crossed her own personal finish line. For something that has made me smile since childhood, that sight almost made me cry.
5) The line outside Mike’s Pastries
People will always be looking for something sweet. If nothing else delivers that, Mike’s does.
6) Bright lights
Twinkle strands wrapped around trees, that glowing blue archway across from the Aquarium T stop, rustic-looking streetlamps, and the soft backlight of North End restaurants. Boston is never dark, not all the way.
7) Dads with babies
Making funny faces at them, holding them on the T, shh-ing them when they cry so Mom can eat dinner in relative peace. Looking like there’s no other job on earth they’re cut out to do besides cradling that little thing in their arms, protecting them from a world they don’t yet understand.
8) Ben Franklin
He was casually sitting on a curb in Quincy Market, beard and glasses and all, star-spangled umbrella open over his shoulder. Nothing could say “America” louder than that.
From subway-station performers, to the “used/good condition” collection at Newbury Comics, to country music during my T ride. I haven’t lost faith in it yet. (Check out “#TBT Playlist: Boston love” on http://www.bcgavel.com if you need further proof.)
10) Good people
Post-marathon runners limping down the sidewalk (the walk is becoming pretty distinctive). Guys in Bruins jerseys, women in Red Sox hats. Strangers to take your picture if you ask. Store owners who ask how your day is going and if they can help you with anything. Hurried-looking men who still stop to apologize if they knock into your shoulder. People on street corners raising money for AIDS research. The faces of my friends on all sides of me. Good people – they still exist, and in a higher number than bad people ever could.
The more things change, the more they stay the same; and so too with this city that I’m so lucky to hold close to my heart. Boston isn’t going to be the same for a long time. We’re all recovering from the shock. But with enough prayers for the victims, thanks to the responders, and action for the betterment and protection of our city and country, we’re going to be okay. And I’m so glad I got to see this yesterday with my own eyes, and realize that on Marathon Monday and beyond, Boston is still a place that brings out the best in humanity.
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