Boston is an amazing city. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. I LOVE BOSTON. So much. I love the vibe of the mom and pop coffee shops on a rainy morning. I love the subway during rush hour. I love the commuter rail each morning, when it’s on time. I love the Common after it snows. I love my walk through Downtown Crossing each morning to class, and the Spare Change Newspaper guy every afternoon outside of Park Street. And I love the Boston Sports Teams. It’s impossible to live in Massachusetts and not love sports, especially on a day like yesterday when hundreds of thousands of people flood the streets to Cheer on The Red Sox on their ninth world series championship. Yesterday was the 11th victory parade since 2001. It will never get old.
I think we don’t realize how lucky we are that we go to college on the parade route. I mean literally our college is the middle of the parade route. How lucky are we? I mean, I don’t think we truly understand how many people would love that.
The parade was so much fun, Suffolk cancelled classes between 10 and 3 and that was the time of my class, so no school! I have never had a better day at school, no I’m kidding, but it was a perfect day. Parade with my friends, lunch after, no clouds, it wasn’t too cold.
The city was on fire yesterday, there wasn’t a single person that I saw that was in a bad mood, and yes, I hate the people who don’t know who to act in a city, I hate the people who take up the entire sidewalk to walk, but you know what, Boston is an amazing city, with amazing people, and amazing sports teams, and a few days a year, I can deal with the tourists, all I can do is laugh.
I can’t wait for the next Victory Parade. February for the Patriots maybe? We can only hope!
Standing in Hopkinton, MA, on April 16, 2018 behind a barrier of white fences. Police men line the streets and volunteers in red jackets are blocking anybody from passing the starting line. This is an iconic day in not only Massachusetts, but the world. Where am I, you may wonder. Waiting, at 8 in the morning, by myself, for the 122nd Boston Marathon, 2 feet from the starting line, in the rain.
It is no secret that Boston is a strong city. Not only are the sports teams exceptionally good, so are the ordinary people. After months of freezing wind and cold, snow banks up to our ears, and the sun setting at 4, the spring comes, and the city comes alive. Tourists come to explore all that this city has to offer, and the residents start to enjoy their lunch outside. And then, as the oldest tradition in not only Boston, but the country, the Boston Marathon comes, and that is when we know, it is officially spring.
It started in 1897 in Ashland and had only 15 competitors. Women were not even allowed to enter the event until 1972. Up until 2005, the race began at noon, with everyone starting at the same time. Now, the race begins in waves, with the mobility impaired and wheelchair racers first.
This year, The Boston Marathon had 9,500 volunteers, and over 500,000 spectators. As the runners shed their clothes, the volunteers pick them up, put them in bags, and take them to a place to wash them. They are then donated to the Big Brother Big Sister foundation. An organization that collects clothes, and turns those clothes into cash, and then donates 100% of the cash to youth mentoring programs across Southeastern MA and Southern NH.
So there I was standing next to a 6th grade girl and her Dad on one side and a couple from Ohio on the other. I was standing behind a volunteer who had been volunteering for 18 years, and one volunteer who just started this year. The crowd was smaller this year, but still just as loud.
Most people go to the finish line. They want to be there when the first people cross, or their friends cross. They want to see the look of pure happiness as they have finished the race. I get that. I do. It is amazing to see that. It’s a crazy feeling, unlike any other, both for the spectator and the runner.
But, not me. Aside from the fact, that I like to be weird and different, the starting line, to me, is a place of equality. Everyone there is the same. The race could go any way at this point. Someone could come of left field and blow everyone else away. Or the person who everyone predicted to win could fall down and not be able to get up to finish the race. Or maybe the person who started out really great, finishes really great. That’s all up to them. But, the starting line, everyone is equal there. And I like that.
The runners have done everything they can do. They have trained, they have made specific meal plans, they have picked out the perfect apparel, perfect sneakers. Their families are there, ready to cheer them on as they embark on a 26.2 mile journey. There is officially, nothing else that they can do. And this may be the only time in their life when they can say that.
First was the mobility impaired. Each runner has a guide, who runs next to them to make sure they are ok. They were ready, they were excited. Some of them were listening to their music, and some were standing there not talking to anyone else. They were focusing. Then comes the men’s wheelchair, then women’s wheelchair. The upper body muscles on them is incredible. Some of them were shaking, either from the cold or the nerves. Maybe both.
Next was the handcycles. Can you imagine going 26.2 miles only using your hands? What determination. Whenever I watch events like this, I always am amazed at what the human body can do with enough willpower.
As soon as they went, it was time for the elite women. They were warming up (well as much as they could on a day like today) They were doing their knee lifts and their light jogs to get the muscles going and ready.
Then the elite men, who were just as impressive as the elite women. The streets of Hopkinton were flooded with people from everywhere. They were cold and they were nervous but they also had a rush of adrenaline from the crowd cheering them on, knowing that they can do this. Wave 1, Wave 2, Wave 3, then Wave 4. After the gun signaled the start of the race, it took some of them 15 minutes just to make it to the starting line, there were that many people.
As each of the runners take off on their 26.2 mile journey, they know that they all have different paths in front of them. Some may win, some may not even finish. It may take some 6 hours to run it and others only 2 and a half. Some may fall down and a nice runner along the way will pick them up. Some may have to drop out mid race. The will face hard times, heartbreak hill, or maybe they will get too cold and have to stop. But they will also face fun times like “Scream Tunnel” and that final turn onto Boylston Street. Many will never think about the starting line again, they will just be proud that they did it, proud that they made it through.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about the Boston Marathon is: Why is the symbol a unicorn? Honestly, whenever I saw the unicorn on the signs and the jackets, I just assumed it was a race symbol, I never thought that there could be a background to it. Upon further research, it is said that the unicorn is the symbol because a unicorn is something that one will never find, and it inspires you to continue trying. “The unicorn is a mythological figure that is meant to be pursued, but, in that pursuit, you never catch [it],” Fleming said. “So it inspires you to continue to try — to race harder in the case of running — and though it may be elusive, it really is the pursuit of the unicorn that makes you better and better and better.” (https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-marathon/2018/04/06/baa-unicorn-symbol-history-boston-marathon)
As they cross the starting line, the unicorn is looking down on them, encouraging them, and inspiring them to keep going, to keep trying until you get what you want. The unicorn will be there throughout the race, until they get what they want. For each person that “Thing” they want will be different, and their journey to it will be as well, but at the starting line, everyone is equal, they have all done all that they can do, and perhaps they did the most important thing that they could ever do, they showed up.
As most people in Boston do, each morning I journey to either Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts, or I bring coffee from home, or I get some coffee from the cafe in my school. No matter how it happens, it always happens. I get my coffee, and then my day starts.
Many times I go during rush hour, and I try to be quick because clearly the barista’s don’t care, and the people in line behind me have places to go, and I have places to go as well and I don’t want to hold up the line.
But, many other times, I will go at 9:55, right after my 9 a.m. class, and right before my internship that starts at 10. (The internship is at Channel 7 WHDH, which if you know Boston, you know WHDH is right next to Suffolk, so I’m always right on time, no need to worry.)
This morning it occurred to me how important it is to really be nice, the people taking my order are just that: people! They have feelings, and they care, and they have problems and lives, and they need love too, as important as it for them to be nice to us, it’s important for us to be nice to them.
To my point, I was at Dunkin Donuts this morning getting my Medium Iced Coffee Caramel Swirl with cream and sugar. That is always what I get when I go there. There is one woman in front of me, and she ordered 15 munchkins. The barista started putting them in a bag and she said,
“Can I have a box?”
“Of course, I’m sorry. That’s no problem,” The barista replied. He emptied the munchkins into the box and filled it up a little more.
He handed them over to the woman and rang her up. Right as she was about to leave, he said
“Have a great day Sweetie.”
“Don’t call me sweetie, you shouldn’t call anyone sweetie, it’s just rude,” she said sharply.
He profusely apologized, again and again, and I felt bad for the man, he wasn’t trying to be rude, he was just trying to help her have a good day, and be nice.
She left without saying anything else, that was, after the eye roll.
Then, I ordered and as he was making my drink he said to me, clearly distressed from the rude woman before me,
“I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.” He went on to say how he felt bad for saying that to the woman, but he didn’t think it was bad, he was just trying to be nice, and do his job well.
“You did nothing wrong, some people are just rude, they don’t care how they sound,” I answered him, trying to help him not feel bad about some woman who clearly doesn’t care about anyone but herself.
“I was never told not to say have a good day sweetie, I was never told that, I even gave her 5 extra munchkins for free.”
“Don’t worry about her, don’t worry, you’re doing a great job. You’re doing great.” I said, and I really meant that.
He then gave me my coffee and I thanked him. He said “Have a great day honey, and I just smiled at him and thanked him one more time.
My whole 4 minute walk to the internship I was thinking about that interaction I just had. Why couldn’t that woman just let it slide? Maybe it did make her uncomfortable, but why couldn’t she just let it slide and not go to that Dunkin Donuts again? We are in Boston, walk 3 minutes and you’ll find another. Why couldn’t she just thank him and walk away, or say you too!? Why did she find it so important to say that at that moment and maybe ruin the rest of his hour?
I truly felt bad for him, but I also felt bad for the woman who is so upset that she feels the need to bring others down. I hope that my life is never that bad that I have to be mean and rude, and I hope that I never make anyone feel like that ever, in any part of my life. I also hope that if there is one thing you take out of this, besides how weird and uncomfortable my coffee run was this morning, it’s that: BE NICE! TO EVERYONE!
If you read my page titled “My Favorite Things,” you would see Cities is up there under my list of 10 favorite things. Nothing will ever top Bread, but Cities is up there.
I love love cities. There are a lot of reasons why, and for a long time I was totally OK with saying I loved cities, but never really declaring why. But in September 2015, I started spending more and more time in cities, and I started to realize and narrow down why it is that I have always and will forever be passionate about cities.
I grew up in a small town, Easton MA to be precise. It’s your typical small town, so I won’t say anything else about it. But, my Mom always took me and my brother to Boston all the time to learn and to explore. She took us to NYC a few times as well. And while my brother was sort of indifferent, I thrived there. I never wanted to leave. I loved the energy, the vibe, the amount of people trying to succeed and follow their dreams. I knew that I wanted to go to a city when I went to college, so that is what I did.
For a variety of reasons, I lived on campus my freshman year, but then sophomore year I started commuting. I started to become one of the many many many people who came to Boston every day for work, or school. This is when I started to fully understand the culture of this city. Since I had more free time in the city, I started to frequent coffee shops, and libraries, and cute little shops that are original and totally Boston. I would walk through the common or the Public Garden because sometimes I just couldn’t sit in the Suffolk buildings anymore.
And now I know why I love cities, I spent all that time exploring and trying to understand exactly what it was that made this city so special. And I know, at least I know why it is so special to me.
Because each morning, the trains start running and the people come flooding in from all directions to their jobs or whatever it is that they are doing. And each morning the coffee shops are swarmed with people from all different directions, and each afternoon the coffee shops are filled with people talking, or reading or working on their laptops. And they each have a different story, a different past, and even a different future, but they are all the same, they come here to do whatever, but they are just trying to succeed and trying their best to be the best, at whatever it is they love.
And in Boston, people aren’t as friendly as they are down south. People don’t talk to each other on the streets unless they previously know each other, they don’t get to know the person behind them in line. But there is a silent feeling of respect that is shared between each person that goes through this city. There is a shared appreciation for each other, without saying a word.
But now I am at the point where when I go to my favorite Starbucks, they already know my order, and I have friends on my train. I know who will be walking in front of me on the sidewalk by the time it is, and the security guard at my work knows me by name.
Boston is a mixture of college students and working people, tourists and residents, homeless people and people who just come for the day. And each year, on that day when the meteorologists say that it is going to be 70 and sunny, with no breeze, you can count on everyone and their dog coming here to enjoy the well deserved warmth that we have waited so long for. It becomes cold in November and stays cold until the middle of April, but yet, the amount of people living here is rising. And until you experience what it is like to really live in Boston, to really be one of the many people trying to succeed here, and until you recognize how good the sun feels on your face after the months of freezing cold, you won’t be able to understand all that is Boston.