Early May marks the twenty-five year anniversary of my moving to Massachusetts. The year was 1987 and my family had decided to return to our Eastern Coast roots by departing our decade plus residence in the mid-West; namely in Oklahoma.
I will never forget the day my mother pulled up in front of Gallagher Junior High School. I sat frozen to the passenger car seat and firmly announced I was NOT going in there. The four stories loomed high above me with an intimidating "Monster House" type glare. I had already graduated from eighth grade in Oklahoma. I spent my 180 days in a four room junior high and passed. Why on EARTH would I venture into the omnious looking junior high to continue on for another six weeks or so of junior high geekiness? Um, no thanks.
You can guess it did not quite go like that. I dragged my feet behind my mother and began another eighth grade venture with my very strong southern accent. I may have very well spoken a different language! Linguistics such as pop, ponytail, sandwich, water fountain, pantyhose, purse were all labeled much differently (soda, elastic, sub or grinder, bubbler, nylons, pocketbook). The Boston accent was unlike anything I had ever heard before - and coming from someone WITH a hearing problem, all those dropped Rs certainly had my head spinning for quite awhile.
I thought for sure I would show up all those kids who asked me to talk, just so they could hear MY accent, by winning the spelling bee. Yesssirree, I could spell so watch out! My first word was pronounced "ahhh-tree". Stunned. Embarrassed. I asked for a repeat of the word. "Ahhhhhhh-treeeeeeee!" Yes, my uber-Bostonian speaking English teacher overly emphasized the pronunciation of said word. Beet red, burning hot and hormonally embarrassed beyond belief, I took my seat. My first friend here looked at me confused and asked, "You don't know how to spell archery?!?"
These are my reflections, some twenty-five years later as I still call Massachusetts my home. I graduated high school here. I graduated college here. I was married here. My babies were all born here. Happy Massiversary to me.
In Massachusetts, Patriots Day is a pretty big deal. Even when we have to work, Patriots Day is known to be a grand day full of exciting events, namely the Boston Marathon and the Red Sox game. People venture into Boston for activities of all kinds, as spring is usually peeking its pretty head in some way shape or form. After a long weekend, Patriots Day is a sign of warmer things to come. Heck, those of us in Massachusetts even get an extra day to file our taxes!
As we all know, this year's Patriots Day was marked by a terrible event at our signature sports event, the aforementioned Boston Marathon. I cannot even tell you how many times I have stood at that very spot some evil people earmarked for terror and planted what they are now calling "weapons of mass destruction". Three people died and over two hundred more were severely injured. At a road race. A race where the nations from around the world come together to run.......in peace.
Two weeks later, my emotions remain all over the place:
- I am still so heart-broken about the tragedy of April 15th. Seriously, I think a piece of my ticker broke off.
- I am saddened that a road race, (a road race people!), was compromised and used as a spot to wreck havoc.
- I am angry. Soooooo angry that some demented beings have the ability to harm other human beings regardless of ANY reason. Not only harm, but these creatures sought to horrifically maim and cause grotesque injuries.
- I am conflicted by my friends who have uber-liberal thoughts in all of this chaos, having empathy with the terrorists and finding "explanation" for their ill-fated actions.
- I am energized. The heros that presented themselves on that very day and those heros who continue to care for the wounded give me inspiration that there are some very good people out there indeed. The light......it will outshine the bad in the end.
My strength is hardened. My perseverance and resolve more firmly embedded in my very character. I have NEVER been prouder to call Massachusetts my home. I would not want my children to be reared anywhere else (and I have lived in many, many states).
Honestly, I love the fast pace of living here. I love the coffee shops (Dunkin's in particular) every tenth of a mile apart. I love the history of the beginning of our nation here; whether its that disappointing Plymouth Rock, the famous Tea Party spot, or even where Paul Revere made his signature ride. I love being able to be in five other states in an hour or less. I love being by the ocean in a short drive one way, or the mountains in a short drive the opposite way. I love, love, love the multitude of opportunities that are available within Massachusetts - whether it's any number of great colleges for education, employment options, or cultural experiences.
I love the toughness of our people, which is perceived to be cold and aloof to many outsiders, but in times of adversity, the wonderful people of Massachusetts come together. I cannot even wait for next year's Boston Marathon. You have not met strong until you have met Massachusetts.