“Your resolve is unquestionable. Your character undeniable. Your history unparalleled. You’ve inspired us, all the way. You will again today.” – Donnie Wahlberg, on Boston after the marathon bombings in 2013
Recently my mom came to visit. She battled her hatred of flying to board a plane in Boston and step off in Los Angeles. It got me thinking about home. Which is a word that can mean a whole host of things. Where you sleep. Where you’re from. Where you currently live. Where you identify with the most. Where your parents live.
To me, home will always be Boston, Massachusetts.
In fact, sometimes my boyfriend quips at me: “Your Massachusetts is showing.” This happens primarily when I get angry driving and start swearing. Or when I start dropping r’s and talking about beating people with locks in socks. I’m a hot headed Bostonian*, there’s really nothing I can do about it but own it. That’s not true, I could work my hardest to be even tempered all the time and pronounce everything properly. But honestly, where is the fun in that?
I moved to Los Angeles about seven months ago. It’s a great city, full of fun interesting things to do, and see, and people to meet. But there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that just keeps telling me “This isn’t home.” It’s not what home means to me. It’s great for right now, but I don’t know if I could see myself living here for the next 30 years. I don’t know if I could see myself living here for the next 10 years.
Currently I live in an apartment that was found for me. I didn’t have much say in the matter, and I agreed to buy all my furniture and my car from a friend who was moving. I realize, I could have said no to these things and moved here and bought everything I needed brand new and exactly how I wanted. But that would have been another month of stressful days spent building Ikea furniture, and trying to figure out if I REALLY want a Fiat or if I’m fine buying a used MiniCoop.
I took the easy road in moving to Los Angeles. But in doing so it left me feeling displaced. Like I had walked into someone else’s life and decided I would just stay there for a while. Over the months the feeling of displacement went up and down. Some days I felt very at home, some days I felt like I was living in a foreign country. No matter what, I never felt like I was home. Just like I had a temporary one. And, to be fair, most of the time I felt that while hanging out at my boyfriend’s apartment and not my own.
All these feelings grew inside me like Jack’s beanstalk, taller and taller until finally they broke through the clouds and a revelation came. Of course I don’t feel at home in Los Angeles. It’s cause I’m a Bostonian. I’m never going to feel at home anywhere that doesn’t feel like Boston. It’s why living in London took almost no transition what-so-ever. I just kind of did it. Living in Los Angeles has taken effort, stress, time, and a lot of blood-sweet-and-tears before I felt truly comfortable.
The thing about being from Boston is, it runs in your blood as more than just a place you identify as home, it becomes part of your identity. It’s not just “I was born there.” You’re a Bostonian. You can’t run from that, you can’t hide from it, and any time someone starts bad mouthing it something inside you snaps and… well that’s when my Massachusetts starts showing. (I will fight you to the death on why Boston is great. I will.)
What makes it feel like home is the fact that It’s a town where everyone’s drunk for all of March, not just St. Patrick’s day. The Dropkick Murphy’s perform at least 8 shows for St. Patty’s weekend, every year. Hell, they own a bar that they occasionally just show up and perform at. You can take the T to a Sox game, buy a giant overpriced beer, and then wander back through Kenmore to take a T stuffed to capacity. And this is something everyone comes to accept, sure we bitch about it, but at the end of the day they’ll cram as many people on that B line as they possibly can.
Just meandering through Boston is a religious experience. The scenery changes every mile or so, they atmosphere changes. It all changes, but it all feels the same. Safe, lived in, comfortable, happy. The entire city feels like home, even though I’ve never lived in the Back Bay, or the South End, or the North End. It all feels so comfortable.
Being there electrifies me. It makes me want to write, to create, to experience, and to enjoy everything around me. I don’t just sit at home, I plan where to go and when and how. I spend entire days wandering around the city. Actually, a large part of my creative drive is that I can take the T literally everywhere I need to go. Being able to sit back and zone out for 20-40 minutes allows for a lot of creativity to flow. Or a lot of reading. As a writer you can just watch the people mill in and out of the train, all different types going about their daily routines.
I’ll always pick Sam Adams over any other beer. I’ll always root for the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics (even though I live in Lakers country). I’ll always know every word to “Dirty Water.” And forever argue that, yes IT IS about Boston, not some other city. I’ll always spend a blizzard inside with a bottle of something to keep warm. I’ll probably do the same thing during a hurricane. Any natural disaster, really, you can find me in Boston, getting drunk with the rest of the city. I’ll take right hand turns from the far left lane, and when I hear Sweet Caroline my eyes well up just a little, because GODDAMMIT we finally reversed the curse.
Sometimes I’ll drop my r’s, and sometimes I’ll talk fondly of Mike’s Pastry (peanut butter cannoli anyone?). I will shit talk the Green Line (because, ugh that noise). I will admit we’re not the biggest city, and we don’t have the most options. Dammit, we’ve got the most dedication for such a scrappy underdog. You saw it in 2013 after the bombing, we don’t get mad. We get even. And then, usually, we get drunk.
But really, the point of all this, is that Boston will always be where I call home. I identify with the people, and the aggression, and the mentality. We’ve always been the ones to keep fighting, and we’re not going to stop any time soon. It’s why I feel like I have the courage to keep plugging away at a career in writing, because I’ve got this Bostonian fire inside me.
I miss all these things, and SO many more. I’m constantly reminded that it’s been 90 degrees for months and the last time it rained was in March. Seasons don’t exist in Los Angeles, at least not the way I’m used to seasons. And rain. I would sacrifice a virgin on top of a mountain if it meant it would really rain some time soon. The kind of thunderstorm that only comes to break the humidity. That’s what I want.
Living in Los Angeles on my own has taught me more about myself than almost any of my other life experiences. But more than anything, it’s taught me that, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I want to raise my kids in a town where for almost my entire life up to this point not a single person understood Mumbles Menino. Just the fact that we called him that affectionately should tell you why I want to move back there one day.
SO this is my love letter to Boston, no matter where I live, you’ll always be in my heart (and one day on my skin). May your tunnels never leak. May your buildings continue to tell sailors what the weather is (top of the Old John Hancock building – which is actually called the Berkeley Building – flashes red and blue lights indicating cloudy, sunny, or stormy skies). May your beer stay cold and fresh. May your cobblestone streets continue to trip drunk biddies (and may I be there to watch?). May you never forget the principles on which you were founded. May you always have a running public transit system, that maybe kind of sucks but at least covers the entire city. May you continue winning World Series, and Stanley Cups, and Super Bowls, and basketball things. But most importantly, may you always save room for me.
*Technically I’m from Medford (Meffid) but unless you’re from Massachusetts you’ve probably never heard of Medford outside of Tufts University (which claims it’s in Somerville and that is partially incorrect)