I have a confession to make: though I've never set foot in you, I've been in love with you for most of my life. Crazy, right?
I'm not sure how or when it happened, but I was slightly taller than knee-high to a Shetland pony, I think. I hadn't run into 'We're all marching to Pretoria' yet, so nowhere in South Africa had entered consideration. I was already in love with London after a brief stop in LHR on our way to Pakistan (the chips were really good, what's a girl to do?). I hadn't met NYC yet - but that was never a contender. DC was nice, beautiful during cherry blossom season, Bawlmer was lovely, but...
...it was always you.
I think it was Social Studies class, really. You know, THAT story. The Tea Party. The little Muslim girl I was secretly loved your rebellious spirit; your heart to fight for what you believed in. (And TEA, seriously? Who drinks that stuff? I just KNOW you wouldn't have done the same with perfectly good cawfee.) Then, I heard about your winters - and I LOVE snowy winters (Ok, a lot of it is cold rain, I hear, but...). And what politically minded young girl didn't kinda sorta fall head over heels for the young JFK? AND OMG, the OCEAN. Finally, I saw your skyline. That was it. YOU were it.
But I never got there. My parents only let me apply to Harvard and MIT, and we totally knew that wasn't going to happen (because MY rebellion was underachieving) - but if I'd applied and gotten into BU, BC, Brandeis, Tufts or Wellesley, the DC metro area wouldn't have seen me for dust.
And somewhere in my heart, I suspect south of the Mason-Dixon Line would never have seen me again as a permanent resident. I was even willing to forgive THAT 'a' - you know, the one where people pahk their cah. How's that for true love?
But it never happened, and life - and my preference for sleeping and pottering during time off - got in the way of my even flying into Logan to visit and meant that I only loved you from afar through glimpses and your natives.
From those glimpses of your city and your people, I built up a picture: warm and welcoming - if reserved at first before opening your heart; intellectual; down-to-earth; scrappy; the only people outside Poland able to pronounce Yastrzemski; stubborn enough to refuse to recognise the letter 'r' as part of the English language; hardy; people who put their shoulder to the wheel when the going gets tough - or even when it doesn't.
Yeah, my crush on you is a big one. And I swear, if we'd found each other, I would never have cheated on you with London.
So, when I heard the news yesterday, my heart broke - even more when I had to tell my friend, Phil, who had spent his university/graduate years in your city, what had happened. I don't have the right to claim any kind of deep grief: that goes to your own and those who have known and loved you over the years. Nor can I claim any understanding of how you feel: the only inkling I have is from how I felt when I saw pictures of Washington on 9/11 or when I heard about London on 7/7. But that is only an inkling.
All I can say is that my heart is with you - and so are my prayers, my sorrow and my deepest condolences.
Grieve. Weep. Stop. Take all the time you need to get back on your feet. We've got your back. And hard as it is, don't close your heart. Stay Boston - that will be the ultimate triumph.
Boston - we love you and we need you - as much as we did in 1776.
We always will.