Oh, Boston

Boston holds a special place in my heart.

I grew up a Boston Celtics fan, watching the legendary Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge crew dominate their opponents in the fabled, rundown Garden. I can remember Johnny Most: “Now there’s a steal by Bird, underneath to DJ, and he lays it in!” and other legendary calls.

I knew next to nothing about the city, other than it was one of the cradles of liberty in the early days of the American Revolution. The Celtic’s hard-nosed, physical, and brilliant play, as well as Johnny Most’s voice coming in over the satellite feed defined the gritty, tough, partisan city for me.

I cried the day Larry Bird retired. I say that unashamedly. An era ended that day.

I discovered Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels in the mid-90s. I’d watched the 1980s TV show based on the novels, but hadn’t thought much about the setting. Parker’s prose made the city come alive to me in ways that the TV series never could. The names coming out of the news yesterday–Boylston Street, Copley Plaza, the Lenox Hotel, Quincy Market … they’re all featured in the Spenser novels. I felt like I’d walked the streets, sat in the Garden or Fenway Park. I connected with the city because of Parker’s writing.

That’s one of the reasons yesterday was so hard. I’ve never been to Boston, but it occupies a place in my heart.

So you hear some asshole terrorist (or terrorists) set off a bomb in a city you love by proxy, at its most famous event. You ache for the families of the injured and the dead. You marvel at the men and women who responded to the needs of those affected–first responders who disregarded their own safety to help the people who needed it most. You’re horrified and humbled at the same time. Yesterday showcased the worst in human nature–and the best.

I had to stop reading about the bombing last night. An 8-year-old boy was one of three who were killed. I look at my son, who’s just two. What world are we bringing him into? I’m hugging him extra tight today.

This act–this terrible, awful act of terrorism–will probably have its intended effect. We’ll lock down sporting events. It’ll be harder and harder to express our freedoms, to go out in public and live your life. My only takeaway from yesterday: Live your life. Cling to your freedoms. Don’t let the bastards win.

Oh, Boston. My heart hurts for you. For the dead, for the injured. And for those of us who saw what happened and cry for you.

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