I wish I were there today, but I am grateful that somehow it seems that Los Angeles is making its own tribute to Boston in the form of the weather.
I find that indulging in nostalgia too often can lend itself to missed opportunities to love the place that you are in the present, so I try to reserve those moments for when they are truly deserved. Today, in honor of the best day of the year for athletic tradition in Boston I felt it appropriate to reflect on how much those streets really do mean to me.
Many of my best moments of thought and reflection were spent walking the streets of Boston. The only time I have come close to that out here is on the beach walk from Santa Monica toward Venice just at the start of sunset. It’s magnificent and calming and reminds me to be enormously thankful for the blessings that allow me to live here.
But that was how I always felt when I walked through Boston. Even in my hurries. Even when rushing through traffic to get to the Garden for work or after a 30-minute adventure trying to park on Hanover Street. Once I was there and free from the maddening frustration of being on wheels in Boston, it was damn near impossible to be upset about anything.
It did something special for my consciousness. I found a special type of peace whenever I walked the city, whether I was by myself or with others.
I viscerally remember my ambles along the ocean in the seaport or past the Italian cafes in the North End. I loved navigating the cobblestone streets on Beacon Hill and near Faneuil Hall or strolling the tree-lined streets and brick of Newbury St. I even liked pushing my way along the crowded pub-filled sidewalks of Landsdowne and Yawkey.
This may sound like a bunch of poetic memory that has been generously rewritten in my mind with time and 3,000 miles. I promise you that it’s not. Some of it I’m sure can be credited to the fact that I was young and vibrant in my enthusiasm for being on my own in one of the greatest cities in the world. But I’m still young and vibrant so I know it wasn’t just that.
I felt it as a teenager, taking the commuter rail to the Patriots and Red Sox parades. I felt it as a college kid, celebrating my 21st birthday at Fanueil Hall and taking buses from my college campus to the bars near Causeway Street. I felt it when I’d go to the theater district to see a show with my mom or to the TD Garden to watch the Bruins with my stepdad.
I stood by myself in line for a concert at the House of Blues, attempting to go over the bizarre circumstances of my relationship in my head after I’d been ditched by my off-again boyfriend. It was the type of moment that generally would’ve forced me into a cab on my way home to drink wine and cry. Yet standing in an alley staring at the ugly backside of Fenway Park’s walls while sound check murmured behind the closed doors was a quintessential Boston-music-fan moment for me, and it made me feel calm and grateful.
It wasn’t just the thrill of being in the big city. It was just Boston.
One of my last memories of walking through the city before I moved was parking just around the corner from Fenway Park and walking to an academic building on the Boston University campus as a guest speaker about life as a young professional in sports media. It was the culmination of a lot of important things in my life, just as I was about to embark on a massive new journey.
I remember the exact shade of grey of the pavement on the sidewalk, and the faint waft of pub food from the bars around the corner. My heels were killing my feet. Once my ego had been fed by a bunch of enthusiastic college kids I went to meet my friends for dinner at a Mexican place nearby.
Yes, I believe my last meal in the city of Boston before I moved to Los Angeles was at a Mexican joint. How apropos.
It was one of the only times I can remember not loving my walk through Boston, because I knew it would be one of my last for a while. It was bittersweet.
The streets of Boston, the heart of the people running in them and lining their sidewalks and the history of this day are powerful. It is an experience that is inimitable, just as the city itself is. I have been away long enough now that these memories have become important keepsakes. I had them tucked them away in a safe place so I could take them out when I want to feel a little piece of “home.”
I took them out for the first time today. Thank you for taking that trip back home with me. I love you always, Boston.