You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right. ~Maya Angelou
Peace – that was the other name for home. ~Kathleen Norris
It was half-past three and I chose to check my mobile phone to see if I missed a call or text message. Indeed, I had. My younger sister had texted to inform me of the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It took a few seconds for me to register this ungodly act and I quickly returned the call. Hearing the details coming from my youngest sibling, the marathoner—she who ran this elite race in 2011—was heartbreaking and there sank my heart. My beloved city, scarred by a senseless act of violence; the race of all races, now stigmatized by this heartless plot.
Soon thereafter, I began receiving text messages and emails from friends. Was I in Boston for the race? No, I was not. Did The Husband run this year? No, but he plans to run in 2014. These caring, dear friends of mine from the time I lived in the outskirts of Beantown were doing what we all do when tragedy strikes—contacting loved ones near and far via social media, through email, by phone—to get a sense that all was okay even in the face of danger. I have never been more grateful to receive such an outpouring of love and concern, not only because I felt especially loved with each new message, but because hearing from each of them meant that they were okay, too.
A distinct number of Monday’s messages came to me from a unique group of ladies I have cherished for almost 12 years. A unique set of circumstances brought each of us to Boston long ago before scattering away to different states, marriages, and jobs. We lived together in a three-story house converted into three separate apartments, while a few friends rented their own place just around the corner. On Saturdays, we enjoyed meeting for a much-needed hangover cure or gossip session at Sealy’s café. As a group, we couldn’t be more different in style choices or politics, nor lifestyle and love interests. Our differences did not divide and we found much reason to come together over a homemade brunch plate; always unified over delicious coffee and amazingly greasy bacon.
Unity carried us through while we collectively faced one of the most challenging and confusing times of our young lives as September 11, 2011, happened while we all lived in close proximity to each other. On the day that changed us and the rest of the world forever, we gathered together inside my E. Milton Rd. apartment and stayed close to each other all of us huddled together on the blue cotton furniture some of us upright and cross-legged on the hardwood floor with all sets of eyes glued to the television. I remember silence and tears with fears rising and anxiety high as we listened to military planes screaming in flight above us patrolling Boston from partly cloudy skies. As we sat still—a group of women typically animated and loquacious—we remained in awe of what we were seeing, hearing and reading. We stayed with the news reports, keeping comfort by wrapping our bodies in blankets and warmed the solicitous chills felt deep in our bones by holding tight to steaming mugs of coffee. Mesmerized, we watched America’s heartache as it unfolded on instant replay of the towers that crumbled before our eyes, another flight terrorized to its demise in a Pennsylvania field, and the third crashing into the Pentagon. Now, almost twelve years later we find ourselves mourning once again and living in the aftermath of horrific acts and the fear of what might come next.
Sadly, we all can’t gather together today. Long gone are the days when love and friendship was as easy and comfortable as refilling each other’s coffee cup as a gesture of healing one another through the pain. Geography makes it impossible for the group to crowd together in one tiny apartment in a house that we no longer share. Nor can we just turn the bend and knock on the door to a home that once housed three friends inside, always glad to see us. Sealy’s has closed its doors, too, and it’s just as well.
Despite the varied challenges of time and place, comfort and healing can be ours, albeit by different measures. No matter the circumstance, we can hang onto a little bit of what we lived yesterday and remain bound to the city that forever knitted our lives to one another—Boston—well-lived by countless others before my friends and I made our mark on the landscape and each other. And like so many of its past and present inhabitants, my friends and I remain connected by the charm and graces of New England’s best urban spot and unite our sorrows to the heartache of Boston’s people and grieve the integrity that was lost on Patriot’s Day 2013, in the heart of our favored, most treasured city.