(Here we are, pre-race, 3 “elves” in the Somerville Jingle Bell Run, in Dec. of 2012. Husband and I are on the ends; daughter in the middle.)
When we travel to different parts of the country, people always ask me the same question: “Are you from Boston?” Apparently, my accent’s iconic and it gives me away.
I used to find that confusion annoying. After all, I thought: “Rhode Island’s its own state…We should be distinguished in our own right… Even if our accent’s similar.”
But we frequently get lumped together with our more famous sibling, to the North.
But I never thought about having an accent. I recall hearing Julianne Moore’s mimicking the Boston accent when she played Jack Donaghy’s high-school love interest in “30 Rock.” My reaction? “Oh, wow…that Boston accent is terrible!” (tho’ she was doing a good job of effecting it.)
Both my daughters looked at me and broke up laughing, while one said: “What do you think you sound like?”
I began to realize: Everyone knew my accent was “Boston” but me.
But I was secretly proud of it. Proud for the rich heritage that goes along with Boston lineage (first Patriots)…prouder still for that fact my younger daughter lives and works in that great city.
Now, I’m proudest for that city’s recent heroic reaction in the face of the Boston Marathon bombing.
For, contrary to the norm, the crowd of onlookers ran towards the scene of carnage—to help. In other words, they defied the natural order of things that says folks react, first and foremost, in self-preservation manner, by running the other way.
That was not onlookers’ immediate concern, in Boston. Helping fallen fellows was, and for that reason, Bostonians are now honored, in a new way.
They again showed top-shelf citizenry when police asked all 660,000+ to stay inside on that fateful Friday, to facilitate their search efforts. Unbelievably, all did, with the result that when they were finally invited to go outside, one resident noted a strange aspect to the tarp on his boat in his yard. It had been cut.
He might not have noted if that day had been “business as usual” in the neighborhood.
When the bombings occurred (on Patriots’ Day), I sat, glued, to my TV set, just as I had when the Twin Towers got hit. I knew the route of the race, for I’d just completed a mini version of it, in December, 2012, when my husband, daughter, and I competed in the annual Somerville Jingle Bell 5k Run, in Boston.
Despite the title, I walk the race; I’m not a runner, but my two family members ran.
Nonetheless, I experienced the thrill…the comraderie…the pumped-up feeling, as we all milled about, before the race. Crowds formed on the sidewalks to cheer us competitors on, for there’s nothing like Bostonians’ support of their own (‘cept maybe for New Yorkers’).
Whole families were there, in the chill air, waving signs and banners, signaling the name of loved ones. Adults hoist little ones on their shoulders.
The mood was a festive one, as racers approached the starting line, dressed in every crazy rendition of the season (we were encouraged to give vent to our zaniness—and as you’ll see, I complied.)
Finally, the gun went off, signaling the start of the race, and the crowd went crazy. It seemed all of Boston’s 660,000 residents cheered us on, important to me, since I’m an older American, competing in what’s usually a young person’s sport.
So, Boston…I know those same streets…I’ve walked a micro version of the Boston Marathon; my younger daughter’s a resident of your great city; she works a block away from Boylston St. We’re there, often…
As territorial “family,” we grieve for your considerable pain.
But, as I said before: We couldn’t be prowdah, to be considered “Bostonians” (even if we’re Rhode Islanders.)
In pic below, that’s me on left, coming over the Finish Line, with new friend and Andover Prof. to my right. She’d had hip surgery; I have MS…We still finish…
Cuz that’s what Bostonians (and Rhode Islanders) do: “We Finish What We Start.”
***To all who’ve suffered great loss in the Boston Marathon Bombing, we send our heartfelt wishes for recovery. Here’s the charity we chose for one of its heroes, Jeff Bauman, a young man who lost his legs in the explosion but who was instrumental in crucial identification of the suspect. Or, if prefer, onefundboston.org, the official Boston relief effort, asks folks to send in contributions to One Fund Boston, 800 Boylston St., 990009, Boston, Ma. 02199. Finally, an article that cites other charitable outlets.
All are cautioned to vet charities, for unbelievably, there are scams out there…