The only way I can think of to describe it is a sinking feeling. Like your heart just hurts, and its heavy in your chest.
All the way across the pond in London, I received the news Monday night right after the second bomb was detonated. I had just spoken to several friends who had told me they were headed to the finish line to see some loved ones complete the race they had worked so hard to train for. Earlier in the day I had been telling some of my London friends that I was really missing out on one of my favorite days at home. Marathon Monday. I even joked with someone that I was thinking about heading to Regent’s Park to cheer on random runners because I felt so left out. The longest 20 minutes of my life soon followed, waiting to hear from the most important people in my life, that they were in fact okay. Lucky for me, physically, they were just fine.
This fall I will be going on four years as a proud resident of the Back Bay of Boston. The corner of Berkeley & Beacon is the most familiar place in the world to me. In fact it might be my favorite corner on Earth, if its possible to have beloved street corners. The first photos I saw revealed my neighborhood to be completely torn apart. My home, my haven, my safest place - was a zone of mayhem. I have never felt that feeling ever in my life. I was helpless and inconsolable. It absolutely did not feel real. I’ve never felt so far from home.
The next few days and nights were filled with tears, long Skype calls with friends, and countless hours spent glued to my laptop for any updates I could get, all the way in England. Knowing that lives had been lost and people had been injured while participating in an event they loved so much, completely shattered my heart. However the thing that really got me, was the overwhelming support, we as a city, were receiving not just from around the country - but from around the world. After the disaster in Watertown and the shooting on the MIT campus, I was pretty much a mess, not knowing when the madness was going to end, but mostly just simply not understanding. What kept me strong was seeing the strength within my friends and family that were home. They were picking each other up, and doing anything they could to hold the city together. Although they were confined to their homes at some points, words of courage and grace were given every second of those never ending days and nights. I am so proud of my city. I can’t really put it into words.
I can’t help but think about why I love Boston so much. I love the Back Bay. I love walking across the public gardens into the commons when they first plant the tulips in the spring. I love walking down the Commonwealth Mall when they first hang the white lights from the trees. I love laying on the docks on the esplanade with my friends when summer weather finally arrives. I love adventuring into the North End only to always end up at Mike’s Pastry. I love the feeling of getting to the top of the stairs when I’m at a Sox game - the feeling of seeing Fenway packed for a game never gets old. Neither does Sweet Caroline. I love rounding the corner of Gloucester and Newbury on my usual walk to work at Cafeteria. I love strolling onto Charles street, sometimes just walking around Beacon Hill. I remember one specific time walking down Arlington on my walk home from the T and being on the phone with my Mom, and just saying “God sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live here.” Boston was where I first started my own life and the first place that I was truly happy. No one, not even a terrorist, can take that away from me.
I was feeling nostalgic the past few days and was flipping through some old pictures on my laptop all the way back from Freshman year. I found this photo, of my best friend Cailey and I, who I met in Boston just about 4 years ago. I remember this night perfectly, we were out on a snowy night and had just left one of our favorite sushi places in the Back Bay. We are standing at the corner of Boylston and Exeter, where the finish line of the Boston Marathon is permanently painted on the street. We were so happy, and were loving our innocent winter wonderland of a city in the core of New England. I can’t wait to get back home and stand on that street corner, for Boston is the best city in the world, which after this week - most should have a hard time denying. Beantown, I love you.
Working through this the best that I can from across the globe. Staying strong with the strongest city in the world. #Boston
Perfect for this very moment.
Walk London’s windy streets
Go anywhere but home
'Cause I'm looking for the secrets
That only cobble stones hold
Only the cobble stones know
And I’ve never been so sure
That after all these years, I’ll never learn
With an irrational fear that I can never create the time needed to do everything on this Earth that I wish to, tomorrow marks the day that I will never be the girl who didn’t go to Paris. My mind is running wild, and I can only imagine what it will be like to fall in love with yet, another city. Hopefully I will have the chance to sit outside at Closerie de Lilas and write in my journal, all about the lovely bits.
I’ve got one bag, a ticket, and a heart full of happy.
It was one of those days, that you just never want to end. I’m not really sure where to begin or how I would end. We made an impulse decision to take a day trip to see Stonehenge and the Roman Bath. The four of us, adventurers in a raw state of elation.
When telling my English friends that I was taking a weekend holiday to Wales, most of them had a good laugh. To them its Wales, an area with the only frequent life being sheep. Although I’m slightly sure that we did drive for about 45 minutes at one point with nothing but sights of cattle fields, I still cannot believe the abundant beauty that the land had to offer.
Our first stop was to Chepstow Castle, where we were able to explore ruins that brought you the feeling that you had traveled back in time. The stone work within the amazing architecture was still so well preserved, and the views from the top of the castle were breathtaking. We then made our way to Tintern Abbey, where we were able to spend time within the property that used to be home to a bountiful parish. Well known for being written about by Wordsworth himself, this abbey was beyond any words I could place. No longer with any sort of roof, it just stands as a bare structure which in its bare state still speaks to the masses. When approaching Tintern, it was clear that it was a very much secluded piece of property, with sparing homes in the surrounding area. With the opportunity to just stand alone in the back of the holy grounds for a few moments, I truly realized what a, for a lack of more intellectual words, mystical place Wales was. The amount of peace I felt in the moment just staring at the emerald fields in front of me, was overcoming. Maybe I’ve just been in the city for too long, or maybe it was just that fantastic.
After spending a sweet afternoon in Hay-On-Wye, town of books, which I previously blogged about, we headed back to our hotel for the night ahead. The hotel was just as charming as I suspected, again, a vintage experience in itself. Clearly family owned, the building was so well preserved in its delicate state. Without delving into details, we had too much fun that night. There’s nothing quite like a disco in a back barn somewhere in Wales.
We began the next day by taking a horseback ride through rigorous back trails, which I believe is the most true form of sight seeing. It was another one of those moments: I was riding horseback through the woods of Wales. Was it real or fake? Was I myself? Or was I a character in the Lord of the Rings.. maybe both.
Wales was to die for, and definitely not to be overlooked during a trip to England. The lesson I took out of this trip, the friends that I have met from Wales don’t seem to quite know how beautiful their roots are. It was then I realized, I take where I am from for granted, in all of its wonder.
Far out in Wales in a small village called Hay-on-Wye, we spent a couple of hours sifting through endless shelves of classic novels. I have been on a seemingly impossible journey for a vintage copy of my favorite fiction, The Catcher in the Rye and amidst the quaint streets we explored I discovered precisely that. Printed in 1958, the original owner signed his name, and I can only hope that he enjoyed Holden Caulfield’s dry and shameless attitude as much as I do, time and time again.
On a side note: I did pick up A Moveable Feast, one of Hemingway’s most well known series of anecdotes. In this I enjoyed his chapter on his friendship with Fitzgerald. Across the street there was a small cafe named A Moveable Feast, helping the village live up to its reputation as a town of books. Books and sheep.