Almost two years ago, I arrived in Paris, ready to embark on a new adventure. During my first few weeks here, it was the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs back home in the states, and my home town team, the Boston Bruins, had made it to the finals. My hockey allegiances had been split in college between the NJ Devils (after following a certain player that helped them to a Stanley Cup win), and the Bruins, whom I had watched on TV as a kid, and had seen a few times at the Garden with my Dad.
The Boston Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, and I experienced something interesting: pride in the place where I come from, that was actually heightened by distance (and a love of sports). I wrote about it, here, and was happy to wear some New England sports attire to work that day (it was a Red Sox jersey, since I didn’t have anything Bruins). Although I smiled on my walk to work, proudly displaying my Red Sox gear, I knew my clothing would only signal “Boston” to those who were American, but I didn’t care. I was expressing myself just because I was happy and proud to be from New England, not because I cared if anyone else could see what I was doing, or to prove my fandom (because trust me, I know some super serious hockey fans, and I don’t rank among them).
Today, I’m doing something that is simultaneously very similar, yet very different to that day in June. Today, I’m also wearing something Bostonian, to show my pride, and not because I care who can see me or if they recognize the green color and signature leprechaun that represent the Celtics. But the pride I express today is a different one. This is the kind of pride I don’t want to have to express, the kind that is caused by things we always think happen to someone else. This is a quiet, pensive pride, where support means thinking about all of the people who have been hurt or have lost someone in an explosion that rocked an otherwise awesome event, and counting my blessings.
Funny how pride can exist in two different forms, despite being tied to the same thing.
So here’s to you, Boston, and all the people who make the city as strong as it is. Like the emergency personnel and the race volunteers that I saw on the news who were rushing to the aid of the injured, like the former Patriots player who was seen carrying an injured woman, and like the rest of the city who I know will support one another every step of the way. I am far away from the danger that has transpired, but never too far to be proud of Boston and to show my support for the city that myself and so many other New Englanders call “ours.”