Love to you, Boston

450px-OldSouthChurchBoston Boston belongs to school kids everywhere. When we were young, at R. J. Vance Elementary in New Britain, Connecticut, we could count on two annual field trips: one to the Boston Freedom Trail, the other to the Boston Museum of Science. At the museum we saw chicks hatching in incubators, fuzzy new life, and Foucault’s Pendulum, proving that the earth is not stationary but in constant rotation. The Freedom Trail took us from Boston Common past historic sites including—this sticks in my mind—the Granary Burying Ground with Mother Goose’s grave. Although I’ve never lived in Boston, yesterday’s bombing felt personal. I think it did to everyone. The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s great sporting events. I can picture the finish line and feel the emotions of joy, exhilaration, exhaustion—people cheering their loved ones on, eight-year old Martin Richard of Dorchester waiting, watching for his dad to run past. The cruelest bomb, if there is such a thing, placed in a location of celebration and victory, is designed for maximum injury, destruction, and trauma. News cameras showed slashed bodies and pools of blood. Graphic, visceral images I can’t get out of my mind. And that place: that familiar stretch of Boylston Street, so near the Boston Public Library, where I spent hours researching and writing a never-published first book that I walked across the Common to hand-deliver to a publisher on Park Street. 951 Boylston Street once housed the Institute of Contemporary Art, where one literary evening I saw Tobias Wolff introduce Mary Robison, and she stood at the podium reading new work and drinking a beer, and the moment is emblazoned in my memory--a great and raucous gathering to celebrate a new collection of short stories. My parents spent their wedding night at the Copley Plaza Hotel—many parents did, many friends did. My niece won a poetry prize at Regis College, and we held a celebratory dinner at a restaurant on Boylston Street. Our family sat around a big table with friends and young poets, and afterwards, in cold spring snow, we walked outside, right past the spot where yesterday the bombs went off. There are moments in life you’ll always remember: where were you when you heard? Equally there are places in life that will gain new meaning after a tragedy—we were right there, we walked down that very street. This is human, a drawing together, touching the spot where others suffered, connecting through our hearts. Right now I’m in California. The sky is bright blue. The breeze blows off the Pacific, not the Atlantic. But my heart is in New England. I can see the spring trees just starting to bud, can imagine sunlight reflecting on the McKim Building of the Boston Public Library. I can picture the yellow and red sandstone campanile of New Old South Church—shown so prominently in the news photos—towering over Boylston Street. A good friend works at Massachusetts General Hospital, helping trauma victims, and I know that and other hospitals are flooded with those needing help. I’m far away, but I’m also right there, my heart and thoughts. So many of us are. Love to you, Boston.