Early April brings spring to Boston, and for students at Emmanuel College that means lunches eaten outside in front of the Muddy River Cafe, homework on the quad and the city’s annual Marathon Monday. Last year was my first time experiencing the Boston Marathon in person. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it had only been three years since the two bombs went off near the finish line. I knew that despite the tragedy at the 117th marathon, it caused an uproar of pride and unity amongst Boston’s people.
My group of five left mid morning for Copley Square with the Fenway neighborhood already crowded with ‘Boston Strong’ t-shirts. There was a buzz of excitement on the walk over there, and an even stronger energy once we reached Boylston Street and our first security checkpoint. The line was long, but it didn’t matter, strangers called out to you if you were wearing anything that had to do with Boston. As helicopters swarmed overhead, crowds of unimaginable sizes were formed underneath speakers and people were dancing together in the blocked off streets. To me, the roads being void of cars from Newbury to the Boston Commons was incredible.
If you’ve ever been to Boston, (and if you haven’t, and are reading this blog for information about Emmanuel, please come visit!) traffic can get a little crazy, especially if you’re a pedestrian. It’s constant stop-and-go for walkers due to historic one-way roads and signals at every corner. The absence of door-to-door cars made the city seem even taller. Back Bay stretched out in front of us like a never-ending mirage, framed by impressive brownstones and the Prudential Center glittering in the background. As cheesy as this is going to sound I will admit it; surrounded by the thousands of college students that Boston houses, I stood with my arms wide open in the middle of Newbury Street.
The line from David Ortiz’s speech after the 2013 bombings is “This is our city.” (Another side note, watch his speech. It’ll make you love this city if you don’t already.) Standing amongst a sea of spectators at the finish line, all cheering as the very first runner crossed, left me with a sense of pride that I’ve never experienced. It didn’t matter that the winner wasn’t from the United States; he was there in our city, wearing a Boston Strong t-shirt of his own. At that moment, with phones winking in his direction as he raised his hands above his head, he became one of us.
If you, reading this, decide to make Emmanuel College and Boston your new home in the next couple of years, I promise that you too will quickly become one of Boston’s people. There is absolutely no sense of fear or isolation here, only a community of 700,000 that will welcome you and accept you no matter who you are.