I fell in love with Boston the way many who live in this fine city do – while attending college. The day I became a Bostonian will be forever imprinted in my memory. Driving down the Pike, Fenway Park on my right and passing traffic on my left, I felt a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and stomachache-inducing fear. I was leaving everything I knew about comfortable New York State life behind me. Would I fit in? Would I get lost? Would I ever figure out public transportation? I was being thrown into the belly of the beast. Would this city embrace me or eat me alive? It ended up embracing me and letting me thrive.
I love Boston because it embraces all. It’s an equal-opportunity city – for whatever identity you create for yourself here there is a neighborhood that will embrace it. With more college students than any other city in the United States, Boston is a melting pot for 18-24 year olds. Feeling like an outcast in your hometown? Spend four years in Boston and you’ll not only meet others like you at your own school, but you’ll discover many more scattered around the city.
I love Boston because it’s a city full of dichotomies and quirks. There are experiences that are innately Boston. It’s totally normal to see a woman walking a turtle like a dog in Copley Square. The same nice police officer who you just asked for directions to Fenway Park just turned around and dropped an F-bomb at a driver honking their horn much too enthusiastically. We’re a city full of partying college kids, yet our bars close at 2am and public transportation at 12:50pm. You need an MIT Engineering degree just to understand a map of Boston streets, yet we have the worst drivers known to mankind. I embrace its quirks. In fact, that’s what makes Boston great.
I love Boston because once it gets under your skin, you can never quite get rid of it. It’s like an intimately placed tattoo – something permanent with so much deep meaning that is for you and you only. I’m sure many others who live in large cities feel the same way about their cities, but Boston is different. There’s a feeling in the air here. It’s comforting. Walking across the city to the Commons to sit and enjoy the sounds is a simple Boston pleasure. When you spend your college years here, the years that shape you into the adult that you become, you can’t help but feel a nostalgic love for this city. Spend any extended period of time here and you become Boston.
In the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Boston has continued to show me why I fell in love. I was a volunteer at the starting line in Hopkinton that Monday morning and the love, generosity, camaraderie, and excitement of that morning is what I will always choose to remember. Watching marathon runners at mile 23 tired and battered getting their second (or 5th) wind from complete strangers screaming their heads for them is the most organically inspiring thing you can witness. That is why I love Boston. When we’re down, we pick each other up, regardless if the person is a stranger or a friend. We’re all friends. We’re all Bostonians.