I love Boston like you love a grandparent.
In spite of its racism, its draconian rules, its going to bed early. I love it because it is mine. I was born into it.
I love the first day of spring, real spring. Sometimes it’s not until May. The first spring day when people peel away their winter jackets, the thick cocoons that shelter them half the year, and relax their faces for the first time in months. Eyes and mouths braced and battened down against the cold and wind that bombard the city a full six months every year.
I love the 3am quiet on the roads. The secret feeling of coming home under cover of darkness. Just you and the drunks, who creep along the highway after bar close, unsteady in their lanes, eyes probing the rear view mirror for signs of trouble. The roads and the streets. Walking through the long-vacant parts of town, the day much more past than future. Quiet footfalls and sporadic traffic. Privacy in a public space.
I love the blind pride, the maniac allegiance to neighborhoods and sports teams. T-shirts, hats turned backwards. Frenzy. The euphoria of victory. The thick, glum fog of defeat. We’re in it together. It is part of us. Roger Clemens signs with the Yankees, and he is dead to us forever. He’s a turncoat, a Benedict Arnold. We honor the roots of the American Revolution when we choose sides and stick to our choices.
I love the way the population swells in September with the rising tide of incoming students. Eager, frightened faces navigating the labyrinthine streets and unreliable public transportation. I love the time in May when those same faces, hardened by New England’s winter (their first?) flee homeward for the summer, leaving the natives and long-term transplants to our warm weather.
I love the old churches, Fenway Park included. The joy of finding a 24 hour eatery in or near your neighborhood. The relentless accents. The shamrock tattoos. The winding, unpredictable, poorly marked thoroughfare that is Storrow Drive. The potholes. It is as much a part of me as my clothes or my hair. It is my childhood home, all of it.
There are rough times, though, too.
I hate how the restaurants and bars shut down so early. And I hate the suffocating traffic that handcuffs the city for an hour every day. I hate the beefy yah dudes that overrun every bar. But these are hates like you hate the way someone chews or you hate when you forget your headphones at the gym. They are different from real hates, like war, famine, and injustice. They are the hates you hate when you forget to love.
And I’m leaving. And moving to New York. Something we never entirely forgave in Johnny Damon and Babe Ruth. I’m moving from the city know nation-wide as the punk-ass younger brother with the incurable Napoleon complex to the cool, confident, older brother.
Boston is a place. New York is a thing with an exoskeleton of bridges and tunnels and buildings and a thick concrete skin upon which protruding trees look foreign.
And I’m excited and I’m scared and I’m sad and I’m heartbroken and I haven’t even tried to sort it all out yet.
Because New York doesn’t care that I’m coming, but somehow, it feels like Boston will miss me when I’m gone.