I am absolutely gutted over the bombings in Boston. I realize there were attacks all over the world yesterday and hundreds of people died, but to me, that doesn’t make what happened in Boston any less important or less tragic. Most of you who know me, know that Boston is a city very close to my heart. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of visiting three times over the last decade and every time I go, it wraps me in its culture, its warm friendliness, its depth of history, and its traditional culinary prowess.
A day I’ve long remembered as one of the happiest days of my life was in Boston on Patriots’ Day in 2006. We’d been the luckiest of ducks and gotten selected in the Red Sox lottery for the chance at buying tickets to see a game on the Green Monster. In even better luck, we got the tickets to not only sit on the Monster, but on the wall on Patriots’ Day for the traditional 11am game. On the way to the game, we took the T as we always do and were surrounded by runners of the Boston Marathon and their families and supporters headed to Kenmore Square. The crowd was electric with excitement for the day. Once at Fenway, you can’t help but feel the enormity of sports history. It is as if you half expect the Babe to walk around the corner in his knickerbockers. We found our seats on the windy green wall and had the pleasure of the scent of grilling Italian sausages and peppers wafting down upon us. During the last few innings of the game, Wally, the Green Monster mascot himself, took up a post right next to me and we cheered on our Red Sox. Danté and I sang Sweet Caroline at the top of our lungs at the bottom of the eighth in full Red Sox tradition. Just when it seemed our game experience couldn’t possibly be better, a walk-off home run clenched the win. Not only that, but the winning home run ball came flying in my direction and landed only two seats away. We stayed and celebrated with Wally and our wallmates until long after the crowds had disbursed. Throughout the remainder of our trip, we were reminded constantly of that moment by the endless replays on NESN and caught glimpses of my pink sweater up on the wall. After the game, we enjoyed cannolis from Mike’s Pastry (although we’ve since discovered that Maria’s really has the best ones) and wandered the city. We took a walk through Boston Public Gardens and smiled at the ducks remembering fondly a children’s book Make Way for Ducklings my mother used to read to me.
Later, we walked to dinner in the North End which is the Italian section of town. While we usually go to places more like the roast beef stands along the beach or unassuming local coffee/tea shops, tonight we wanted to celebrate. We went to La Famiglia and had a stunningly amazing meal. I don’t remember what Danté had although I think it was some kind of a mussels and pasta dish. I had a glorious stuffed chicken with parmesan asparagus. I’m not a big fan of asparagus normally but this was in its own world of tastiness. I barely remember what I had to eat yesterday but this I remember. We were regaled by accordion music by an older Sicilian gentleman who stopped by our table and sang love songs to us. Not long after he moved on, one of Boston’s finest came in and took a microphone from behind the bar and started singing Italian songs. The owner came over to our table and Danté’s face was priceless. It was as if his great-grandfather had suddenly meandered into our lives. I later confirmed that indeed, this man was his doppelganger. I took their picture together in front of the painted murals. We finished our bottle of wine and went down the street to Caffé Vittoria. Downstairs, we had previously enjoyed Stanza di Sigari and the Caffé’s cappuccinos but this night we stayed upstairs and shared a brain-meltingly delicious tiramisu that we will forever compare the dessert to and be disappointed.
I smiled so much that day that my face hurt for days afterwards.It was this day in which it felt we fell in love all over again that I was remembering so fondly on this Patriot’s Day even while some of my coworkers were fuming over the fact that Patriots’ Day is even a holiday because it meant one of our vendors was closed for the day. Despite the medical issues I’m dealing with and all the stress we’ve been under, I couldn’t help but smile again every time it popped back into my mind.
After work, while I was waiting to pick up our daughter from school, I was browsing Twitter and saw the earliest reports. I prayed it was an overreaction and the injuries would be few and minor. How horrible it is to know how wrong that was. I’ve tried to avoid the images but I cannot help but read the stories. I know all those places. I’ve been there and made sweet memories there and fallen in love with the people. I can’t help but wonder if one of those happy faces pressed up against mine on the crowded T were there again to run or to cheer were there again yesterday.