B Strong

This week.

Am I right, people? I mean, come ON. To give you an idea of how incredibly shitty this week was, the highlight for me was my cousin’s funeral. At least I got to see some of my out of town family and I got to eat pizza.

When we got home from the funeral, we got the news about the horrible bombings at the Boston marathon, and suddenly it wasn’t just a personally shitty week, but an international one. We had a friend running in that Marathon, and after we confirmed with his wife that he was okay, we could relax a little. Just a little.

I’ve only been to Boston once, in 2007, but it left a wonderful impression on me. The Red Sox are the natural enemies of our Blue Jays, obviously, but despite that we had great tour of Fenway Park and came to admire the devotion of “Red Sox Nation”. My wife was so won over that she bought a ball cap. It was brown and had a small Boston “B” on the front. The only unique thing was that the “B” was pink instead of red. I thought she got it just to bug me, but it actually has become her “go to” cap whenever a ball cap is required.

The hat.

The hat.

I remember walking through the fens after our tour, past the postage-stamp sized community gardens and out the other side to the Museum of Fine Arts. Boston’s MFA is smaller than New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I liked it better. It wasn’t so overwhelming, and you could spend a couple of hours in there and feel like you’ve had a good look around and seen most of the galleries. I remember reading somewhere that the original sketch of George Washington (the one that is used on the American $1 bills) was at the Boston MFA and I asked a security guard about it. I had this wonderfully unexpected, drawn out apology/explanation as to why that piece was not on display. It was over in Europe on tour, and then it was going to Baltimore, then D.C. before coming “home” to Boston. He sounded genuinely regretful that I wasn’t going to see it, and somehow through his thick “Baston” accent, it sounded even more sad. I found myself apologizing to him for asking about it, and he (remember he was a security guard, not a tour guide) told me about his favourite pieces. “Don’t miss the Winslow Homers!” and he guided me to the next gallery. When I think of Boston, I think of that security guard, and how he tried to take something unfortunate and turn it into something better.

"Sunlight on the Coast" by Winslow Homer. Recommended by my Boston Security Guard

“Sunlight on the Coast” by Winslow Homer. Recommended by my Boston Security Guard

We saw that all this week in Boston on a much larger scale. From the moment the bombs went off, we heard stories of police and EMS rescuers running into the fray, performing CPR and first aid on hundreds of victims. Back in December, after the horrible Newtown shootings, we were reminded of that lovely, inspiring quotation from Mr. Rogers. You know the one I mean: the idea that in times of disaster, his mom would remind him to look for the helpers. Look at all the people who are trying to help, and you’ll always find that, and that will somehow bring a bit of comfort, if not explanation to the situation. I was cheered by the number of inspiring messages on Twitter on Facebook, led by Patton Oswalt’s wonderful post and going from there. We heard wonderful stories of NY police driving up to Boston with coffee and sandwiches for the Boston police. We saw that inspiring quotation projected on the side of a Brooklyn art museum. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. NY loves B”. And it was the Boston Red Sox’s “B” of course. We’ve come a long way since 9/11, when revenge and hate seemed to be our collective focus. But it was the stories of people helping people, people cheering police cars as they drove by during the day-long siege on Friday, people simply saying that this is bullshit and whatever the motivation behind such an attack, it will not diminish our humanity, these were  the reports that took precedence this week.

Or maybe they were just the stories to which I chose to listen.

"Look for the helpers"

“Look for the helpers”


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