As you may have noticed, many of the writers at We Love Beantown have described why they love Boston in relation to where they are from. We have writers from St. Louis, Chicago, Virginia and Buffalo. All came to Boston for school or work, fell in love and decided not to leave.
My experience is a little different.
To me, Boston is a homecoming. A story of unfinished business. The capital of New England, the city that epitomizes all that is good about the Northeast. I was exiled from New England for more than a decade, life and work pulling me in different directions, pulling me away from where my heart has always been. When it was finally my choice to decide where I wanted to be, I came home. To Boston, the only city I want to be.
I grew up in Maine, a little town called Yarmouth, 15 minutes north of Portland. When I was a senior in high school, my parents got jobs in Charlottesville, Virginia and I was dragged from the only school system I had ever known and thrown into the South. It was a jarring experience for someone in their late teens and, to this day, I still consider 1999 to be the worst year of my life.
Charlottesville eventually turned out to be a very good place for me. A small city full of great restaurants, the University of Virginia and history. It was there I learned to be an adult. I trained as a chef and made many great friends. My family still lives in Charlottesville and, like New England, I consider it a home.
Charlottesville was never my home by choice. I tried to escape several times, going to Boulder, Richmond and D.C. but almost every time I left, I was hooked back. It is a circumstance that many American 20-somethings deal with: it is hard to leave the town where you graduated high school and where your family lives. If Charlottesville were a black hole, my life orbited around the event horizon and escape velocity was difficult to achieve.
Drastic changes were needed to leave Charlottesville. The first was to get our of the restaurant industry, the culinary malaise that took 12 years of my life. It took two degrees and a mountain of student debt, but I became a journalist writing about technology and sports and have made a decent go of it. As a journalist working from home, I was free to live wherever I wanted.
Which brings us back to Boston.
Unlike other writers at We Love Beantown, I do not think I can pinpoint any one set of reasons why I love Boston. What it really comes down to for me is a matter of identity. As a Mainer, my heart and mind is tied to New England, a feeling that was only strengthened by the fact that I was forced to leave before I felt my time was spent.
The fact of the matter is that I would never live anywhere else in New England. Not Portland, Burlington, Portsmouth, Providence, Hartford or (gasp) Worcester. The locus of New England is Boston. Home of my first love, the Red Sox. Home of the greatest cluster of higher education in the world. Home of a great, educated and diverse population. Home to the birthplace of American history.
Boston, Massachusetts …
Home to me.
And there is no other way I would ever have it be.