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I Heart You Boston

While I watch you in lock-down, I think of your streets as I met them. I think of a night with five wonderful souls, driving sensibly through majestically wide streets lined with old and new buildings – architectural centaurs welcoming my rash participation. And though the car was driving sensibly, I was not. I was standing in the backseat of the powder blue convertible, braced by two attendees of the course I co-taught that day, arms spread wide and head thrown back to take in the line of buildings against the sky. And that was before the first drink.  Then we bar-hopped. We talked academics and politics, we met barrels of students, professionals – all welcoming, interested as well as interesting. I had never, before or since, gone out on the town with total strangers in that way. I just knew I was in good hands.

I remember you twenty years later. Your streets shut down for a better reason than today’s: the 2010 Fourth of July Boston Pops. We stayed until the end, until the last firework fizzled over the river. And as we turned to walk back to the hotel, the throng of people could have been treacherous. But instead, Boston, your people reached out to help my daughter over road barriers as the crowd surged us to the closed freeway. Your people came forward to carry elderly across uneven ground and over fences. Some carried bags for others laden down with chairs and umbrellas; almost everyone asked if we were okay. That look on our face: bewilderment, was not because of the situation, but because these were total strangers. And yet, we were in such good hands.

And now, while your streets are not what I remember, with your real spirit locked in houses, we hold our breath together via cable or satellite or YouTube. Whether your people are total strangers, or the faces of victims we will never forget,  they will reach out and lift you above the evil, they will carry your burden for you when nothing is clear. Your people will be the force that guides you back to that place where you can steal a heart in the back seat of a powder blue convertible.

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