For Love of Boston, Part 2

See For Love of Boston, Part One.

Frock Files | Love for Boston, Part 2

We woke yesterday with an answer to the who of “Who would do something like this?” Brothers; Boston residents, who spread even more violence in their city by leading police on a wild chase involving shootouts, pipe bombs, stolen cars, and bloodshed. About half an hour after we got the news, Governor Patrick put the city on lockdown.

As I said on Wednesday, I go into the city with James most Fridays — not yesterday. His office is located within a couple of blocks of the apartment building the brothers had lived in; within a mile of the MIT campus. Often, I drop James off and head out to areas I know well from the days I lived just west of the city. Almost always, that involves a trip into Watertown because I like the friendly grandpas who work at Home Depot, who are always ready to advise on my next project. Sometimes I drive to Russo’s for raspberry jam cookies, Japanese tea, and big hunks of stinky cheese. Copley, Kendall, and Watertown. There are many parts of the city I never venture to, but these three I know intimately. As we watched the news all day we could easily pick out the streets they were filming on because of small clues in the background.

Perhaps it’s because of the location, or because the news kept interviewing his shocked friends, that every time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s photo flashed on the television screen all I could think was, “Kid, you’ve ruined so many lives — you’ve ruined your whole hopeful life.” And it’s this thought, kid, that really pains me. Because the three people who were killed, the MIT police officer, Dzhokhar and his older brother were all my age or younger. And here, I feel like my own life is just beginning.

The whole country breathed a sigh of relief when they pulled him from that boat last night. But I have to wonder whether there are others involved in this, and where they may be. And I think we need to remember what it felt like not to know if we were safe to leave our homes — whether we were safe in our homes — because so many people in other  parts of the world live that way every single day. I hope that what’s unified us can continue to create something good and filled with hope, not just for Boston or our country, but for everyone.

There is more work for us to do.

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Thank you for all your love and support this week, friends. Your emails, tweets, and messages really helped us feel less isolated — and very loved. We’ll be back to the fun stuff on Monday.

For Love of Boston

Frock Files | Boston Will Rise

Most Fridays, I join James on his commute into the city, and if the weather is nice, I take the T to Copley Square to work out of the beautiful public library. Sometimes, in the summertime and in early autumn, I bring a big bag to fill up on vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market just across the street. I used to work in a building one block away.

Copley Square is, to me, the heart of Boston. As we watched the news loop the footage of the explosions over and over from our hotel room in Portland on Monday, it felt surreal to see Copley filled with smoke and a flurry of panic, splattered with blood. Even now, more than 24 hours later, my brain has difficulty reconciling this familiar place with this terrible act.

Back in 2006, I was preparing for a trip to London when I heard the news that two explosions had gone off there. One was on a bus, detonated immediately across the square from the apartment my beloved professor, Ruth, and her husband lived in, in Bloomsbury. When I arrived there, windows were blown out of the building that was nearest to the explosion. Flowers were scattered about with notes attached to them. The city was running in full again, but it felt different — on edge, tense, despite the warmth of summer.

It felt that way when we touched down at Logan airport yesterday. There were police officers all over the airport, cop cars lined up along the Charles River and throughout Kendall Square. We turned on the radio, scanned the stations, and heard the words “tragedy,” “bomb,” and “terrifying” so many times that we eventually turned it off. As we drove through the tunnels that connect the airport to the city we hit traffic, and for the first time ever, I felt panic creep in until we were mercifully released back into the sunshine washing over Storrow Drive.

For everyone who calls Boston home, there is now the eerie feeling of violation and uncertainty. Those who were gruesomely injured, their loved ones, and the loved ones of those killed (I cry every time I think of that little boy), have to deal with the coupling of these uncomfortable feelings and a new, more difficult life. But this is a city of big hearted, tough people, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Boston will rise from this stronger than before. As Jim Walsh of Boston’s public radio station explains, “Boston is not the biggest city in America; it is not the most politically powerful. But it has an inner determination and power that only the foolish ignore.”

This is our home.

Want to help? The Red Cross and Boston Children’s Hospital are accepting donations. Our friends at Caravan Shoppe have created a free printable to fight the darkness with light and beauty.

Words, Words, Words: The Heat (is Broken)

Our heat started doing a funny thing this week, and for awhile it looked like we might be without it just in time for the arrival of our first snowfall.

As the central heat whirred and clicked, sounding very much like the little engine that could, I thought about our friends in New York City who were without power for a week in these chilly temperatures.

One friend told me that she actually liked certain aspects of it — boiling her water with herbs to take scented, candlelit baths; eating simple meals of tea, bread, and cheese; the quietness that seemed to blanket the space without the presence of little blinking LED lights or the neon glow of digital clocks ticking off the minutes of the day. She is made of much heartier stock than I am. Of course, you never know what you can endure until you do it; until the point where it’s no longer bravery but absolute necessity.

When I was growing up, I dreamed of the snow. I distinctly remember lying very still one Christmas just to keep cool, listening to the neighbor’s air conditioner groaning next door, and wishing desperately for cold weather, sweaters, hot chocolate. On a school field trip, they took us to the freezers in the supermarket and explained that we would be that cold if we lived somewhere with snow. Yeah, I thought, teeth chattering, but at least we could make snowballs.

The grass is always greener. Or, you know, frozen in place beneath that majestic white stuff.

The winter I moved to Boston was the first time I ever held a shovel. It was beyond me that this fluffy stuff — the stuff we eat out of cones in Hawaii — could be so impossibly heavy. It took me over an hour to get my car out of a snow bank, and by the time I was finished I’d shed my coat, scarf, hat, and sweater, and was still sweating in just just jeans and a t-shirt.

“Hey!” my neighbor shouted as he jogged by. “Looks like you’re stuck!” He became a descending electric blue streak as he went past me down the street.

Hey! HELP ME!” I wanted to wail back.

I’m still not very good at shoveling, which is okay since we live in a place with covered parking. But I’ve learned about how to use salt to melt ice, and the value of keeping a thermos with hot tea in my bag at all times. I know what to do if I hit black ice. I understand that blow dryers are as good for warming up hands and feet as they are for styling my hair, and that an oven can act as heat when your radiators go out. Even pockets have new meaning for me: once just convenient containers for change, now necessities for warmth.

Last night, we gave up on the heat and burrowed under three layers of blankets, grateful for our double paned windows and the fact that the blanket to person ratio in our home is completely uneven, at four to one. We’re getting on a plane to see my family on Monday too, and that fact alone radiates warmth. Living in the Northeast has forced me to unearth a tolerance and capability I didn’t know I had, but my roots in Hawaii make it clear that I come from people who know how to adapt. It’s the original mashup; the reason why I sometimes don’t know if I’m saying a word that’s Hawaiian or Japanese or Filipino. We are the mosaics of our many small parts, and in the end mine is a map of the globe.

While I’ll be gone next week, some of my favorite ladies will be here, and you won’t want to miss their posts! Delicious food, simple crafts, and some words of wisdom. I’ll be tweeting photos throughout my trip, so stay tuned!

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Words, Words, Words: Bigger

One of my favorite people in the world is in town today. As I prepare for the two weeks that James and I will be with my family in Hawaii, my work load is monstrous. But it would take way more than a few looming deadlines to keep me from seeing Ruth.

Ruth was my professor at the University of Hawaii, and she later became a friend when we were both in London at the same time. She and her husband return to London each year, and when I get the chance to go back I always try to do it when they’re there. The London I see with the Dawsons is brighter, more exciting, more beautiful than the London I’d see on my own. Over dozens of afternoon teas — at the Wallace, the Orangerie, the Tate Modern — Ruth, in her brilliant, good-humored way, has nudged me to imagine a bigger world for myself.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Dawsons in Portland and here in Boston, as well. We even did a house swap one summer, when they came to see their daughter graduate from Harvard and I went back to Hawaii to see my family. My friend Sahana and I spent long days on their second-floor porch, reaching for the mangoes hanging from the big tree in their front yard, drinking damiana tea and gazing out at Diamond Head.

She’s one of those magical people who I never feel like I have enough time with. I remember her classes seeming like they lasted only a few minutes. And this visit, on her return trip from the Caucasus, will be no different. Time will fly. Only this time, when Ruth asks what I’ve been doing it won’t be another dead end job — it will be about my freelance work, and my move across the country, and maybe most importantly, this.

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