Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Love Letter to Beantown

In the summer of 1999 I found myself in a city that will forever hold a special place in my heart.  It was my first time completely on my own.  I was 17 and in true teenage fashion, thought of myself as already an adult.    This would be my first summer away from home, let alone in a metropolitan city.

I arrived into Boston overwhelmed by the city - fascinated by the brownstones, the close proximity near the river, and just the sheer fact that I was in a city other than my "small town" of Tampa.  

Through the Boston University Theatre Institute (affectionately referred to as BUTI) this was my first taste of the "college" experience.  I was living in a dorm!  I had a roommate, a meal plan, a whole city at my disposal.  I learned how to take public transportation for the first time.  I was discovering myself as a person and artist, welcomed with open arms and completely in awe of the "city life".

I discovered the garment district, Dollar a Pound, where we rummaged through piles of clothes discarded on the floor to hunt for the perfect thrift store image.  Newbury street was a shopping mecca.  We giggled at the thought there was a store called "Condom World".  Newbury Comics was THE place to be.  And every night, the CITGO sign would act as our lighthouse to lead us back safely to the Boston University dorms.

I met some new friends that to this day still maintain contact with.  T4th of July was truly a patriotic experience. Dancing in the rain on the esplanade was a Perks of Being a Wallflower "Infinite" moment in life.  

One night, 6 strangers hung out in the Boston Gardens benches near the Make Way for Ducklings statue and we spilled our guts about our life and bonded over this moment of emerging into young adulthood.

That summer, I knew that no matter what, I had to go to school in that city.  I was determined to get myself there.

In the late summer of 2000, I found myself once again alone in a big city, ready to embark on a new adventure.  With two huge suitcases in tow, I hoped into a taxi to take me to a place that I would call home for 4 years.  Completely scared (my parents dropped me off at the airport in Tampa but did not accompany me to move-in day) once I landed, the familiarity of what I remembered from a year ago settled in and I started to relax. 

Boston Commons was my quad. The city was my campus to explore.  

The leaves changed in the fall right on schedule.  The first snow fall of winter would blanket the Commons and we'd steal the trays from the dining hall to sled down the hill.  We ice skated Frog Pond, tasted Mike's Pastry in the North End, and when one was low on cash, I will admit we'd jump the T turnstiles to avoid that 65 cent token charge.

I know the ins and outs of the streets.  Drop me off anywhere in the city and I can navigate around.  

I grew up in that city.  In a way, I became an adult - learned to be independent, experienced first love and heartbreak.  It wasn't just being at the school but the common comraderie that you feel in the air is something that can't be explained.  I always rooted for the home team and remember when the Patriot's won the Superbowl and we stormed Government Center (I even ended up climbing on the back of a truck that carried me down from the State Building down Tremont.  More importantly, I found a place where I belong - a place that I called home.  It's weird to think that one can find themselves attached to a city but once you are there, it is magic.  

My best memories were made in that city.  Friendships still go strong. In a way, Boston shaped who I am from my education and life experiences.  Speak to anyone who is from the city or has been there and you instantly share a bond. 

Even miles alway,I feel the pain and sadness of the whole city. I feel that a part of me has been injured as well and the feeling of violation makes you mad and upset.

I know that Bostonians will triumph over this.  I trust that the city will feel the love and support from so many who share their well wishes.  I grieve for a city that means so much to me and share the pain for people I've never met.  But we will grow stronger because of this.  We will find love and compassion out of tragedy.  Terror will not take away the fond memories of of my 2nd home and will only make them stronger as I remember everything the city has offered me.  And above all, we will find the strength and light to shine in the darkness.  

Love and light, 


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