On Patriots Day 2004, as we had done many times before, a small group of friends and I went to watch the Boston Marathon as it ran near our houses down Comm. Ave in Newton. I distinctly remember it being one of the first real, warm bright days of spring in Boston that year. We were 13-14 years old, didn’t have school and were finally considered old and mature enough to walk down to the course by ourselves. We stood in the crowd cheering the runners, holding out our hands and slapping them five as they ran by. At one point, a particularly fearless and silly friend in the group ducked the barrier and sprinted a few hundred yards down the course with the runners before getting winded and being grabbed and politely asked to get off the track by a volunteer. As he was escorted off, we heard a few runners chuckling as they ran and told him not to hurt himself. We asked our friend why he had done that, and he merely shrugged and said he wanted to be able to say that he had run the marathon, or at least a (very very small) part of it. After a while, we hopped on the T and made our way through the massive crowd to the finish line to cheer on the runners as they completed their Herculean feat. We got the timing right and even got to see some of the runners we had seen back in Newton cross. It was a fun, warm, carefree day. The Red Sox had beaten the Yankees earlier, the countdown to the end of the school year was on, and we were a bunch of kids celebrating with the rest of our city.
I’ve since moved away from my hometown and haven’t been back to the Marathon since, but every year in mid-April, I find myself drifting back to the memory of that day. This year, now living in Los Angeles and feeling particularly homesick, I was following the marathon closely and reminiscing about my last marathon day quite a bit. When everything went down and the news started coming in, I had never felt farther from my home or the memory from all those years ago.
Reblogging the essay I wrote after the bombings last year in honor of the one year anniversary. Happy to be home in Boston today. Happier still to see that my fear of the marathon becoming corrupted didn’t come true and instead Boston Strong became a symbol of unity and strength in the past year.
This is our fucking city.