Running to something – help, comfort, courage

In the end, it was still about running, wasn’t it? Running for something – a goal, a cause, a sense of accomplishment. Running from something –  terror, death, the unknown. Running to something – help, comfort, courage.

The events of April 15, a day already marked by the dead in history –  President Abraham Lincoln, those who went down with the Titanic – conjured the kaleidoscopic emotions of 9/11, perhaps most particularly for those who lived through it in New York.

The city has always had a complicated relationship with Boston, born of their very different beginnings – one in New England Puritanism, the other in mid-Atlantic Dutch pragmatism – and crystallized by the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Even the Red Sox’s fave, “Sweet Caroline,” speaks of that complexity. It is, after all, about Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, a New Yorker with Massachusetts’ roots.

But New York-Boston, Yankees-Red Sox is a rivalry within a family. We are siblings first, rivals second. Tuesday night, Yankee fans sang “Sweet Caroline” at the stadium with defiant gusto.

When I think of Boston, I think of all those summers my family –  Massachusetts-bred New Yorkers – and I rooted for the Yanks at the stadium and Fenway Park.  I think of chicken pot pie and cornbread at Durgin-Park in Faneuil Hall, shopping at the Copley Place mall, walking up Huntington Avenue with my aunt to the Museum of Fine Arts.

The last time I saw Boston, it was a day in 2008 very much like April 15. My aunt and I drove up just to see the Titian show at the Fine Arts. I found some terrific items in the bookstore, including a rare copy of Sam Taylor-Wood’s photographic series “Crying Men.” And after, we stopped for lunch at the Publick House in Sturbridge and then for chocolates at Hebert’s, as we had done on all those trips of memory. It was one of the loveliest days of my life.

My aunt’s gone now. But on April 15, I remembered how much she loved Boston and how proud she was of the times her immigrant father – my   grandfather – would take her to the Commons for Fourth of July.

When I think of Boston now, I’ll think of that and her.

Maybe I’ll even crack open one of her Red Sox books.

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