I Love Boston: Traveling Through Tragedy

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I was born in Boston. My parents and I moved to Southern California when I was 5 years old, lured by sunny weather and a desire to escape East Coast snow. Although I grew up a SoCal girl, I always liked the fact that my personal history was a little different from the rest.

In the years since, I’ve only been back to my birthplace a few times, but I still feel a connection as the maternal side of my family goes back generations in Massachusetts. Boston was a major city fairly untainted by terrorist attacks unlike New York City or Oklahoma City, but Monday it was marred by the explosion of two bombs during one of its most iconic events: the Boston Marathon – one of the world’s best-known road races and oldest annual marathon.

When I first heard about the bombing, I, probably like countless others, started thinking of family and friends in the area and scouring news reports and social media outlets to find out what had happened and connecting with others to check on their safety. Fortunately, I’ve accounted for my own and they escaped harm.

That’s not the case, though, for others: So far, police reports say three are dead, including an 8-year-old child, and more than 140 are injured, some seriously. Now 24-hour news channels are throwing out any crumb of information as the story continues to unfold.

A bombing in a major city is on my mind for another reason. I’m about to fly out to New York City on Friday to see the sights and attend a business conference. It’s been at least three years since I’ve been in the Big Apple and my excitement has grown as the departure date nears. Now I’m wondering how that metro city will be affected and all the old wounds that will reopen. I’m sure security will be heightened and people a little more wary over the days ahead.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, I dug out photos of my first ever trip to New York City – just three months before in June of that year. I had stayed in Lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood on a solo trip, close to the financial district and practically in the shadow of the two World Trade Center towers. I hadn’t planned it, but ended up visiting the rooftop observation deck on the South Tower. On 9/11, I looked at a picture someone had offered to snap of me…and was breathless that the building no longer stood.

As a traveler, I have an innate curiosity to explore and test my boundaries, traveling alone at times like I’ll be on this trip. To me, New York has an energy unlike most cities, but some would say it comes with inherent risks on a widely varied scale – from theft to major crime to acts of terrorism. Some may think twice about stepping on a plane over the next few days, thinking, “What if there’s more to come?”

None of us really know what fate has in store for us. For me, there’s never really been a doubt that I would stay true to my plan. Even in 2001, I boarded a plane to France within a week of 9/11. And I’ll board a plane again this Friday with an optimistic heart and, admittedly, a heightened sense of what’s happening around me. Boston will be on my mind, too, along with the hope that my birthplace and its inhabitants will heal soon and overcome the day’s tragic events.

 

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