~Boston, the eyes of the world have turned toward you again; the whole world as it were is weeping for you again and for your losses of a year ago.
It was—and still is—a bit uncanny, the outpouring of sorrow because you are not a big, snazzy, flamboyant city, sexy and alluring. Add to that your history of racial tension and organized crime, bad drivers and unmarked roads, you are far from perfect; I would even say a flawed city as all cities are.
Then there are those visitors who come to you from warmer climates and more hyped-up places. They say you're a bit unfriendly, snobbish, aloof; they complain about your animus toward cars and drivers, your unwillingness to don the default, tourist smile.
All that, yes—until they stumble on a moment, which reverses their initial impressions and throws them in mild confusion. It’s always like this with you. You reveal yourself, your hard-earned, gritty humanity in increments. It was like that for me, as well, my arrival on a late-May some twenty-five years ago, on one of those days when the sun, light, wind and water played their magic on Storrow Drive.
It is such a day today, Boston, that you have given us one year after your streets were torn, your runners felled and pulverized, your beauty soiled in blood and shrapnel and shred and muscle and broken bone; your innocence ambushed and your confidence shaken; after you too held your dead in your arms–like Madrid, and Baghdad, and Kabul, and London and New York City, and Ramallah and Tel Aviv and Sumgait and Gaza. You had become part of the brotherhood of mourning cities.
I came to you twenty-five years ago wounded, unsure, and full of trepidation. You gave me life anew, and deep friendships; you gave me the gift of accumulated knowledge and the excitement of words whose benefits I now return to you with this letter of love and lament. You restored me to myself but also to other, strangers even, in places far away from your shores. You opened the chambers of my heart and pathways of my mind, infused new energy in my veins, re-made me in your image, possessed me with your steadiness but also set my imagination free.
You gave me both a home-away-from-an-imagined-home and a world in equal measure. And I stayed as though I had, in fact, come home. For all that you have my love and gratitude, and because my love extends far beyond your city limits I mourn also all the other victims of mass violence, all those children and families in cities I do not know and have never visited the world over.
All this, all this you did in your quiet way, your restrained habits, your folded beauty. And now, on this day, one year after the bombing, in your moment of sorrow and need, I offer you my words, for that is all I really have to give. I offer them back to you and the families of those who were killed, in our mourning. Words– things of air and sound, these inadequate utterances–I offer them to you for the love of this broken world, the memory of homes lost and found, the lament of cities scarred by violence and re-made with hope.~