Just Another Day In Boston......

It really doesn't matter what I think, it's all about what I know.

Living in Boston for many years, the city that I still love, had changed me. There are protocols that don't necessarily 'fit' other areas of the United States, but I learned them when I  moved there and adopted the culture. Watching what has unfolded the past week, I realized that some don't understand certain customs, traditions, and social protocol that is indicative to, and is part of the fabric of this great city, and those great folks that live there.

Rather than hash out what the 'media reports' are saying about all of the craziness, let me tell you about the city on The Charles, the one from my point of view.

1)  If you want to go visit a friend or family member, you don't 'drop in' normally, you call ahead. Boston streets and suburbs are tight, literally, emotionally, and physically. You live, like in other older, major cities,  practically on top of your neighbor. Because everyone is physically close, it's a matter of giving someone space, about showing respect to your loved ones and friends.

Once a city filled with immigrants, its' families still live close to one another. 'Triple Decker' living usually means mom and dad live on the first floor, your sister and her husband live on the second floor, and you get to drag your groceries up to the third floor. Close enough to be there when family needs one another.

2) You know the neighborhood businesses and their owners like they were family too. My little apartment was directly above a wonderful little deli with a small wall dedicated to sundries. Gus and his wife immigrated from Abruzzi, Italy, raised their children, and made home-made sausages every other day in their deli. I was a young, single woman who made very little money. Once a week, Gus' wife would set aside a meal portion of their dinner for me, waiting for me when I got home from work. At least once a month, Gus allowed me to 'put stuff on the cuff'. My neighbor upstairs, "Mother Mary" would make me omelet sandwiches on toasted Italian bread for our Saturday lunches together. I, in turn, would run errands for her, help her move her furniture, or complete a project.

We all knew each other's birthdays, quirks, and likes. Chicken soup, tissues, and ginger ale would be left at my door if I was really sick. It was a family, it's what you did when you lived that close to one another in Boston. That's what someone who was "good people" did.

3) If you are a woman, AND you travel by subway or bus in Boston to work, you most likely wear sneakers. Even with an expensive skirt suit, socks and sneakers are the norm for most women. Cobble stone and brick lined streets and sidewalks are unforgiving to any pair of heals that a woman would wear. The added benefit to wearing sneakers, you could out-maneuver other people on the sidewalk. This comes in handy during rush hour, when you need to make the 5:15 Downtown Crossing train, the 6:10 bus out of Haymarket, or catch the Green Line from Park Street. Sneakers are about fast walking, fast moving, getting to where you want to be, when you want to be there.

4) Spring does not officially begin, nor is it celebrated in any grander fashion, than Patriots Day. This day is set aside for the REAL first Red Sox game. Before that, if you attended an earlier game, you were watching a winter warm up session. Sitting amongst the fans in the bleacher section, or now, perched on top of the Green Monster, you feel the breeze off the ocean, promising quietly, warmer days ahead. Winter can be harsh, it's cold grip releasing the choke hold on a beautiful parcel of land that begs to breathe in sunlight and warmth.

You show up in Hopkinton at 4:30 AM on Patriots Day, anticipating your brief encounter with world-class runners, and receiving a full sensory experience of humanity, wave after wave of running class, to begin their journey from this auspicious starting point. Homes throughout the town are open to all that wish to stop in for a cup of coffee, offering runners a place to stretch comfortably and wait for the time their wave is due to the starting line.

 If you decide not to wake up that early, you bargain with your friends, which pub you will begin your marathon sojourn, close enough to the finish line to say "I was there". It is, after all, a right of passage. Many businesses are closed, and if they are not, a planned 'day off' is almost expected.

It is a joyous day, a day in which Bostonians celebrate their defiance against a monarchy that valued nothing but raw materials and money, not people. The acts taken over 230 years ago by brave men and women would define a new country, one that valued the individual and what they held important. A city, at numerous times, under siege from a hostile ruler.

A co-worker asked me the other day, "So, like, this is just a big 'day off' kind of thing?"
I reflected on that for a moment, and my response was just a nod. How could I relay to her what Patriots Day is to a Bostonian?  It came to the forefront of my mind, how fiercely close and loyal Bostonians are to one another, and to their city. How this 'just another day off' really is about Spring coming to a beautiful city, the freedom that running gives, endurance of physical and psychological pain, the triumph of what we call 'The American Spirit'.

I guess to some, it could be viewed it as just another day, but, it really doesn't matter what others think about Boston, it's all about what I know.