Reflection: What I’ll miss about Boston


See # 1 and 6. Tercentenary Theatre Awash in Snow

1. Brutal Winters

There are many great aspects to being a native New Englander. But few of them produce such unvarnished delight as watching people matriculate from the South and West and get bludgeoned by the realities of the Cantabridgian winter. Indeed, even those Columbia alums that think they have experienced the worst of the worst find that there is an entirely new level of cold, an entirely new level of wind, and an entirely new level of frustration that comes with a winter that seems to last six months.

Of course, I won’t just miss watching people suffer through-I’ll miss the great storms themselves. The day before a big storm, there is a giddy anticipation in this old colonial town. The John Hancock tower blinks red, a warning that is alien to outsiders, but that natives immediately acknowledge as a “Snow Emergency”. Then, as the storm blows in of the water, the Puritan in every New Englander comes roaring out. Stay indoors? Hardly. We’d rather run out of gasoline on the Mass Pike and be part of something special then sit around waiting for the skies to clear.

2. The Constant Pull of the Past

Few American cities have done more to preserve their colonial heritage than Boston. Indeed, as the City struggled to survive during the economic downturn of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Boston recommitted itself to using its history as an engine for tourism. You are never far from a monument dedicated to an American patriot or a popular revolt against authority. Americans may look to New York and California for the new, the hip, the bigger, bolder, and taller. One gets the sense though, that Boston 100 years from now will look eerily similar to its present appearance…unless of course Harvard owns the entire City by then.

3. Town Meeting (Hamilton, MA)

I suppose it is too much to ask for New York City’s 8 million inhabitants to be run by something akin to the town meeting. However, the lessons in democracy and community-building that I learned from taking part in town meetings and from watching my neighbors, who were World War II veterans, take an active interest in every nickel and dime spent in my small town, will be deeply missed in the world’s greatest metropolis. In a media capital like NYC, pundits and prognosticators all too often seize the debate and mutate it to suit their political preferences.

4. Celtics Season Tickets

I have been a Celtics season ticket holder for five years and I am not at all excited about the prospect of having the glorious experience of watching the Green replaced by watching a Lebron-less Knicks squad putter around .500 in the so-called “World’s Most Famous Arena”. Every New Yorker with any sense of history knows that Madison Square Garden is nothing to be proud of-indeed, it stands on the site of one of architectures few irreplaceables-the Old Pennsylvania Station, which was torn down in 1963 at the low-point of Robert Moses-led “urban renewal”. Nevertheless, the two days a year that the Celts are in New York will certainly be circled on my calendar.

5. Fenway Park

As much as I love winter (see supra), my first trip to Fenway Park every spring is truly the turning point in the year. My junior-year, high school English teacher said that she got goose bumps every time she walked through Fenway’s gates-and she wasn’t even a big baseball fan. In particular, the traditional 11 AM first pitch on Patriots Day, which is timed to coincide with the passage of the Boston Marathon runners through Kenmore Square, has come to be a tradition of sorts for my sister and me. May the “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark” live on for another century.

6. Tercentenary Theatre (Cambridge, MA)

Something every Harvard student should do before graduating is walk the straight line from the Gutenberg Bible in the Memorial Room of Widener Library, out the front doors, through Tercentenary Theater, and onto the steps of the Memorial Church. We law school students do not spend much time in the “Yard,” Instead, we stare out at a gloomy Holmes Field from a sometimes equally-gloomy Langdell Library. This is a shame, because there is no better place on campus to ponder what it means to be a Harvard student and to feel the weight of 375 years of history then to walk, in lonely silence, through Tercentenary in the evening.

7. Boston Accents

Most people who migrate to Boston know of its famous accent far before their matriculation. But true native speakers know that the accent is truly refined town-by-town, with each municipality having a unique tin. I’ll miss picking out Beverly residents from Peabody residents as I sit on a bench in Boston Common.

8. Singing Beach (Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.)

When Bay Staters refer to “The Cape” they are invariably referring to that hook-like appendage called Cape Cod, which is really a shame, since Essex County residents know that the “real” Cape is Cape Ann, which protrudes from Essex County and is made up of old fishing villages like Essex, Gloucester, Ipswich, Rockport, and Newburyport. Of all the brilliant beaches on the real Cape, Singing Beach in provincial Manchester-by-the-Sea is the greatest of them all. For those who remain in Cambridge, take a Saturday in early September and head on the commuter rail (from North Station) to Manchester. The station is a short walk (10 minutes) from Singing Beach.

9. Gay Marriage

Governor David Paterson of New York has introduced legislation that will bring gay marriage to the Empire State. But until he signs that bill into law, I will walk past Battery Park and Lady Liberty every morning with the shameful knowledge that I am living in a society that institutionalizes discrimination.

10. Home

Everyone knows the feeling: when we arrive home, our body alerts us with goose bumps and an increased heart rate. I am sure that I will continue to feel that awesome sensation as the Boston skyline comes into view and the outline of Harvard’s campus emerges along the banks of the Charles, long after the bells of Memorial Church go silent on Graduation day.

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