In the spring of 2000, I was attending Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, and yet thanks to a history club trip I visited Boston for the very first time. It's a little odd because I grew up in New England, but then life is funny like that. I would later live for three years in Burlington, MA, just outside of Boston.
When I made that first trip, though, I got to tour a lot of the famous landmarks and sites. We saw a lot: I climbed to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument (there's a moment in the movie In Bruges where American tourists are warned about climbing a similar structure, and I'll leave the reference at that, but it's hilarious), which is a lot more taxing than you might imagine; went to Salem; toured the house Nathaniel Hawthorne was living in when the first skirmish of the American Revolution occurred between Lexington and Concord. I actually heard someone say the phrase "Don't shoot until you see the whites in their headlights" during a reenactment ceremony.
I'm telling you all of this today because the timing was just before that year's Boston Marathon. I personally think that anyone who thinks running long distances as a recreational activity ought to have their head checked. I happen to walk long distances, which probably makes plenty of people think the same way about me, but it seems more reasonable. Plus my coaches in track & field in high school were sadists who made me do semi-long distance running, and I happen to probably have a form of asthma that exhibits itself when you exert yourself in that manner. It's terrible at track meets. Although it's still less ridiculous than speedwalking.
As you may have heard, there were explosions at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon today. There's no point speculating about what exactly happened or why, but as an American who lived through 9/11, it's not hard to evoke those memories. I suppose the reason I didn't start with them for this post is that none of us wants to relive that. I want to talk about my Boston trip because these are happy memories, some of the best I've got. Maybe you're already thinking of the Boston Marathon explosions and formulating your own ideas, and maybe some of you are panicking, and maybe some of you are thinking that some other people are already exaggerating the event.
In these early hours it's worth emphasizing that Boston has a considerable history. If this had to happen anywhere, it's as good a place as any. We Bostonians are no strangers to hard luck. We're scrappers.