The vows we make to love, honour and cherish are often thought of as the point of commitment following a courtship, sometimes – without realizing how or why – we make a commitment long before we even meet the love of our life. This love embraces us, carries our burdens when we are weak, makes us stronger, gives and receives, become intrinsic to our psyche, this love becomes ‘home’ in every sense.
At the beginning of our senior years in high school (at least in the United States) we are asked to not only synopsize four years (including a school year not yet ‘lived’) but also to frame our dreams and life goals and it’s not lost on me that my personal summary read:
First, please note, I had never traveled to Boston as a child, I didn’t have relatives that lived there, no personal reference point to have expressed this life goal. In fact my first sighting of the Boston skyline was via the Mass Pike as a 23 year-old newlywed bride when we stayed with a friend in Newton en route to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where my husband had a job interview. In 1998, divorced with my former husband’s words echoing in my ears “I am keeping you from being everything you are capable of becoming”, my new tech employer gave me the option of working out of the headquarters at 55 Broad Street in New York City or ‘geek center’ off of Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge; the location was a no brainer as I actually loathe NYC, and not just because I have long been a proud member of Red Sox Nation - this was my rebellion against my hockey-loving father who “would rather watch paint dry” ~ I was Boston bound!
Boston. And surrounds. Separate but entwined, each better because of the unique characteristics of the other, a rich tapestry, a complex piece of music, a gorgeous piece of art, red brick and puddingstone, slate sidewalks and iron fences, arcing spans to walk across in the ‘Emerald Necklace’ or on “The” Charles – oh, my ‘self’ and my love.
For a decade I lived with you, was defined, made whole and existed as the best person I have ever been intellectually. I (inadvertently) found sanctuary in Emmanuel Episcopal with its exquisite music and thoughtful, inclusive and very progressive community, every week you offered up lectures about things I didn’t know I needed to know at the Boston Public Library, Harvard, MIT, the Theosophical Society and Swedenborg Chapel and chamber concerts with BEMF and Boston Philharmonic, at Sanders Theatre, Jordan Hall, and the acoustically perfect Medieval courtyard of the Fogg. I was left breathless and renewed swimming in Cape Ann’s icy coastal waters as well as inspired by the collections at the MFA, Peabody Essex, the Sackler, Fogg (which with the Busch-Reisinger will reopen this fall as one museum as designed by Renzo Piano) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner. Boston, my beloved, you gave me life as if I had crossed the driest desert to find an palm oasis with a single cup hanging from an ancient hand-wrought chain affixed to a stone surround protecting an artesian spring of pure water from which to drink without abatement. Sustenance. Oh Boston, thank you.
I have been back and forth since 2002 when life forced me away from you and all you give. And when, last year this time, two young men who you also embraced betrayed you and then set out to destroy all of your beauty and turn you and your surrounds into a war zone my heart twisted in wretched agony and I cried copious and unrelenting tears. Oh, my love, oh, my dear Boston.
A serendipitous gift brought me back to you this weekend, and what I carried now as part of my being was renewed in your energy in places as familiar to me as the shape of my own lips which I used to metaphorically kiss you with tender spoken memories created together and to express endearments held tightly in my heart but always shed in tears of gratitude to be back with you if only fleetingly.
As I walked with my best girlfriend (whose wanderlust made this re-connection possible) through my former ‘front yard’ of Boston Public Gardens (explaining what she was seeing and my history laid against the backdrop) the memories of a decade of pink confetti falling from your 100 plus year old cherry trees fell through my mind as if I were inside a snow globe, in this moment of transcendence the scar tissue ruptured. Not a helicopter heading for Mass General but most clearly a surveillance one broke the rapture, and then another helicopter two minutes later – I was undone. Our hearts are resilient, our psyche’s mend, but still scar tissue reminds us that to love sometimes means that we will also be hurt, and that when our beloved is hurt it scars us as well.
I came home to you dear Boston for the purpose of sharing you with someone who needs your love as I once did and in incremental steps from Brookline to the Back Bay, to Longwood and the Fenway to Cape Ann and back to Cambridge to Beacon Hill – you did exactly what I hoped you would, you embraced, and nurtured and sustained with the deep refreshment of your very existence. Thank you my beloved, but you had one more gift – for me, thank you. You reminded me that home is not where you live, or where you were born, it’s not the objects which surround you no, truly, ‘home’ is where the heart is. We carry ‘home’ around with us and breathe it in like an asana and Boston you have been my home longer than you know. On this trip, at every intersection of my old life with my current one, you seemed to anoint me with blessings. Against your refined beauty you also brought me (utterly incongruent) Croatian messages, making it clear that my new lover whose spine curves along the Adriatic languidly awaits, ready to embrace me.
I will always love you, my darling Boston, I will miss you but you will always be my hearts’ home.
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