Boston belongs to my heart

By Daniel de la Rosa

On a bright spring morning with the lingering hint of winter still in the air, Patriots Day would dawn bright and very early in Boston. It is a day of celebration in a city that reminds me of an old European burgh with winding streets snaking around its center.

The marathon would kick off in the early chill and it would end near Copley Square just as the baseball game in Fenway Park a few hundred meters away would get going.

It is the only time in a season when a baseball game gets going at 11 a.m. They really hold fast to those old-school traditions in Beantown.

The mayhem of a year ago has turned Patriots Day into something else. I want to blot out the memory of what happened, but it is not easy.

I love Boston not because I am a sports fan who avidly follows the ups and downs of the Red Sox, but because of what the city means to me. I fell in love with the place the first time I went there with my wife and daughter. We walked around Faneuil Hall and up on cobblestone streets which took us past the replica Cheers bar whose reruns I watch to this day.

I’ve gone back — alone — to Fenway mostly in different seasons, in all sorts of days and all kinds of weather. I remember sitting on the third base side a few rows watching a game on a warm summer afternoon.

The intimacy of that ballpark embraced me. It was the first time I watched David Ortiz, the only remnant of that band of idiots who won the first World Series title for the Red Sox in 86 years in the fall of 2004.

After the ballgame, I chatted up with another Fenway pilgrim who made his own annual trip from California to watch the Sox.

I remember another day, a rainy, cold morning going to the souvenir shops outside Fenway during one college hunting trip. I stood in the light drizzle and it felt just perfect.

The scudding clouds unleashed tiny droplets which raked the streets and pelted the old stadium built the same year the Titanic sank in 1912. I bought some oversized T-shirts that still hang in my closet. I wear them pretty much every day.

There was another cool, fall day at the end of the season when I watched a night game in Fenway by myself and then showed up the next day for Game No. 162, the one which ended the season.

There was a late autumn night when I arrived from Maine at North Station where the Boston Celtics would play. I checked into a hotel to rest up.

I hiked to a seafood place and had steamed lobster. The rolls were hot with the butter melting in my mouth. The lobster always tasted better in Boston than in any other city where I’ve had them.

The city was always special for me. Some of my best times are on the train rides to and from Boston. I would get off at Back Bay station and walk past Copley Square near the finish line on Boylston Street where the marathon would end.

One year on, I feel a twinge of nervousness wondering what would happen next. Will someone try again?

On another spring morning on Patriot and Marathon day, I wish I was back in Boston. I long for the red beans and andouille sausage of New Orleans, another one of my favorite cities, but Boston belongs to the heart.

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