That was the title on my Google homepage at 6:30 am tuesday morning (China time). Normally I would ignore such a outlandish title, assuming it had to do with Red Sox or some political thing, but this headline was accompanied with a picture of a building and flames. I clicked through and read the article.
Boston is my city, MY city. I went to school there for 4 years, and then for the following 10 years I made monthly trips there. It’s the city that I never need a map yet I always know where I’m going, it’s the place that I walked across Back Bay at 1 am in a snowstorm just to get a slushy, it’s the place that I know which dilapidated building is actually hiding a delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant. I don’t call many places home, but Boston is one of them.
So, when I read the news, followed by all the updates in Facebook, I started to get sad, and mad. Like, really, really mad.
I’m not an overly emotional person. When 9/11 happened sure I was sad, but I didn’t cry, I didn’t look to others for comfort, I didn’t stay by the news listening to all the updates. In fact, with most major tragedies such as earthquakes and shootings I’m saddened, of course, but I just deal with it. I guess I’m a tad jaded, or cold-hearted, like that.
But this whole Boston thing, well something was different. I had to run off to class (where my poor students had to deal with “not taking any shit today” Becky) but I couldn’t concentrate. Today’s classes we were playing games, and I kept messing up the team order, giving points to the wrong students and generally just made a mess of things. For instance, I was going to divide them up into 3 teams, yet someone I ended up with 7. Not even sure how that happened.
I kept thinking of home, of Boston, and of old friends. And here is the strangest part of all. I suddenly missed people in America. Like, a lot. Which is a very strange thing for me. I just wanted to be around people who understood how I felt. Everyone in China was really nice to me all day. All my students had heard about it and my friends in Hangzhou talked to me a lot in the morning, trying to understand it all. But they didn’t live in Boston. They’ve never stood in Copley Square watching the marathon runners complete the race and fall down exhausted. They’ve never cheered on the guy running in the clown suit, or looked in pain at the runners with bleeding nipples.
But I have, and for the bombing to have happened there, in MY city, at MY marathon, well it really hit me in a weird way. Even if I was in America there’s nothing I could do. I can’t donate blood and as I lived outside the city I couldn’t offer physical assistance or a couch or something to those stranded. But I guess it would have been nice to be around people who understood how I felt.
That’s the nature of traveling, giving up the old and familiar for the new and uncertain. And that’s why I love traveling. But on some days I miss the places I’ve been and the people I’ve known. Today is one of those days.
Boston Photo Credit