COLUMN: Finding Your Boston
The Heart of the City
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 00:09
The label “born and raised Bostonian” is something that many people hold with pride. I accept this label even though it is semi-undeserved because I was raised in a suburb about 30 minutes away from the city. Despite this minor detail, I consider myself a Bostonian through and through. The love of Boston was instilled in me at a young age. I walked the Freedom Trail for fieldtrips, watched the sea lions touch balls with their noses at the Aquarium, sang “Sweet Caroline” with my brothers at Red Sox games in thick August heat, and trekked into (the vastly overrated) Fire and Ice for countless teen birthdays during my high school years.
Coming to Boston College has further ingrained my love of the city of Boston in me. Before anyone at BU or Northeastern points out BC is not a Boston college at all, but rather a university in Chestnut Hill, I am the first one to recognize we are not a “Boston school” in the truest sense of the word. My campus is not the city street and my dorm room is not in a high rise. Being at BC, however, was the first time I had the city truly at my fingertips—it was the first time I could go in on a whim.
After a year of following my whims and desires around the city, what charms me about Boston now is quite different than what charmed me when I was a child and a teenager. Before, I was drawn to the attractions: the history, the sports dynasties, the fancy restaurants. But very recently it has occurred to me the charm of Boston is that it is a city that begs for each and every person in it to add his or her own story.
Boston itself is not one identity—it houses everyone from the hardened old man in Charlestown to the woman toting her Louis Vuitton down Beacon Hill. It is a multitude of identities tied together by a city that inexplicably draws so many together.
As students, Boston is our city as well. We are the pinnacle of a college town with somewhere around 250,000 students entering every September and injecting the city with discussion, noise, and the energy that only 20-somethings can generate.
So whether you are a freshman and experiencing Boston for the very first time or returning to Boston for your fourth fall here, I encourage you to explore Boston: our—pardon the cliche—extended campus. Only by exploring can you find the part of the city that asks you to own it.
Find your Boston. This is a city with layers upon layers begging to be discovered by someone. Your Boston could be the Green Line, Grill 23, or just a particular patch of grass on the Esplanade.
Explore. Allow the character of the city to invite you within itself. Be attracted by the attractions. Seeing the Bruins in action or watching the performers at Faneuil Hall have the predictable thrill of being “classic Boston.”
But, once in a while, turn away from the expected and soak in the true character of the place. The twists and turns of the inefficiently laid out streets collect the spirit of a city full of people who are convinced they live in the best place in the world. I thought I knew Boston when I was seven.
And then I thought I knew Boston when I was 16. After having Boston at my fingertips for a year I now know I will never really know all of Boston. But I also know that I have my Boston.
My Boston is going to expensive restaurants in Government Center and then only ordering appetizers. My Boston is sitting on a dock on the Esplanade. My Boston is standing in the front row of the Paradise Rock Club.
That’s my Boston. What will yours be?