For years, I have said horrible things about you. Blamed you for being boring, stuffy, expensive, snooty - all based on ill-planned weekend trips while I was living in Providence. I always had such high expectations yet never had a good time. I blamed you.
This weekend, this beautiful spring Patriots’ Day weekend, you proved me wrong. You were welcoming, friendly and most importantly affordable. In fact, unlike any other city, every time we mentioned we were from out of town, someone offered to buy us a drink. Why? Because we were in their city and they wanted us to have a good time. Thank you! We did.
We arrived Friday evening. Parking was a little hectic – you need to work on that. But we managed to last the evening without a ticket. We met some friends and got a quick tour of Beacon Hill, home of presidential candidate John Kerry, MTV’s the Real World Season six, and Tom from National Public Radio’s Car Talk, who actually drove past us and waved to our friend as we were walking up his street. Car Talk! Tom!
As he was waving and driving by, our friend casually said, “You guys ever hear of Car Talk? That was Tom, one of the Car Guys. He lives down the street.”
The words weren’t even out of his mouth before Michael started running after the car. I tried to explain to our puzzled pal that we had actually been callers on the show and Tom and Ray (Click and Clack) had told us to stop by when our trip took us through Boston. Alas, Tom drove away, oblivious to his fans. Michael trudged back to meet us and chastise me for not running faster.
Now that I am typing this, I realize perhaps that chasing after someone’s car, waving your hands wildly, saying “hey, do you remember us?” was not the best route to take. But it sure makes for a good story.
A story that we told at least four or five times in restaurants on Charles Street, Newbury Street, Boston Common, anywhere we had a willing or captive audience, really. And you listened.
Dear Boston, I think spring becomes you. No one appreciates a sunny day like a New Englander. This weekend, I was privileged to be with you as you sunbathed in the Common, rode the Swan Boats for the first time this season, took pictures of your children straddling the sculptures of the Duck and her Ducklings and prepared for your very own holiday, Patriots’ Day.
As if the Boston Marathon wasn’t enough, your Red Sox and Bruins hosted games with their nemeses this Patriots’ Day. The New York Yankees were served a loss in their fourth game at Fenway Park this season. The Bruins, not as lucky, suffered defeat from the Montreal Canadians in the seventh game of the first round of the NHL playoffs at the Fleet Center later that night. Tickets for both events were easily out of our price range, but we lingered around both venues, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the electric energy coming off the fans. The 25th mile of the Marathon course was just a block away from Fenway. We had a prime spot to watch the lead runners sprint past on their way to the finish line. How could this day get any better? Well, we could have gotten tickets for the game, but that wasn’t going to happen for less than $100 a ticket, even after the 6th inning.
If you don’t mind me saying, Boston, you are baseball crazy.
But not in a bad way. I expected the worst. I have been to Orioles games when your cheers of “Yankees suck” have overpowered and confused the team you were actually playing. I have lived underneath a transported Red Sox fan in Harrisburg whose howls and stomping I swore were causing structural damage to the old building we inhabited. I prayed that Michael wouldn’t wear his Yankees hat out in the city because I was in no mood for confrontation. He didn’t, but our friend did. And what did it provoke? Nothing but good-natured teasing. Not malicious. Not mean. It started more conversations than it ended.
Never have I seen more people adorned in their team’s colors, sporting jerseys and hats, holding their tickets or hot sausages in one arm, and several with Bruins gear tucked underneath the other. I have never overheard a team brought up in practically every person’s conversations. I have never been asked my thoughts, opinions and allegiances in baseball more often than this weekend.
And that was just on the T.
Boston, it was a pleasure being with you this week. I take it all back.