New Thing #106: Identifying As A Bostonian

Globe_CoverI grew up in Queens, New York. My whole family is still in New York.

I'm proud to be a New Yorker.

But the fact is, for the past 17 years (14 straight), I've lived in Massachusetts.

For about half of that time I lived in Boston.

And for the second time in my life I've seem somewhere I live and care about be attacked.

I happened to have a chance to reflect on this "where I'm from" idea quite a bit these past few days.

In Quebec I was asked a number of times, "Where are you from?"

Usually when I'm asked that question, I'll say something like, "Well, I live in Framingham, near Boston...but I'm from New York."

This weekend, though, that answer became simply, "Boston."

I don't know why. Maybe because it was easier to explain to people. Maybe because I knew they didn't care about my life history - they just wanted to know where our group was from.

Whatever it was, for the first time in my life this weekend I uttered the phrase, "I'm from Boston" with no qualifiers.

Then on the way home from Quebec I waited on pins and needles for updates from my wife as I heard awful news from Boston trickle in bit by bit.

By the end of the day I was proud of the Bostonians who responded at the scene...and I thought about how I or someone I know could have easily been among the victims. (More than 140 victims in a small city like Boston makes you feel like you have to have known someone affected.)

I've written before about how upset I was on September 11, 2001.

At the time I was only out of New York for five years.

The Twin Towers were a backdrop for so much of my New York experience, but they were never a place I spent a lot of time. In my life, I maybe spent a total of six hours in that immediate vicinity. I didn't know anyone who worked there. While shocked at the loss of life on September 11th, I did not spend much time thinking, "That could have been me."

But I've spent countless hours where the explosions happened on Monday.

And rare have been the moments I've been there by myself.

Usually I'm with friends or family - really, the people I care about the most in the world.

And if I'm not there, I know of numerous instances where friends or family have been there without me.

And these friends I mention -  friends I've spent time with there or who spend their time in that area - they're the friends I made in the city where I've now lived for half my life.

Explosions at the Boston Marathon. That kind of tragedy really hits home for me.