Carrying pride for your hometown as if you’ve got an invisible flag swaying in the air from your hand should be an inevitable trait, but it doesn’t always feel as large as when you finally leave the place you were born and bred in. For some people, it’s too easy for them to brag about where they’re from, especially if they reside in the kind of big cities like New York and Los Angeles. These two extreme regions, almost interchangeable because of their influence, have had people from all over the world and even within the United States packing their bags for a piece of that elusive pie that’s packed with the artificially sweetener that life over here is better than wherever you came from.
When a young person in particular leaves not just the nest, but their home state, it’s always in the name of self-discovery and long-awaited adventures. Yet once the usual spots for a guaranteed hell ride have been located (you could sleep walk there); you’ve graduated from college and you sometimes have to actually be concerned with money going towards keeping a roof above your head and something substantial to eat; and the luxuries of the simpler way (and likely cheaper circumstances) of doing things as it was back home become more apparent, you’ve begun to allow and remind yourself that maybe your hometown wasn’t so bad after all. And usually, it wasn’t even about it being the worst place on earth. Sometimes we just need to get away; escape; be uncomfortable; know what’s like to be in the jungle and while help might be a phone call away, it’s not ten bus stops away like how it used to be.
The big cities are quick to lampoon the softer way of life for states down south and anything not NY/LA, but what these capitals of the world inherently miss is the desire to be gracious, to truly live for moments that aren’t premeditated, and appreciate your fellow citizens. It sounds corny but compared to how people live in a state like Virginia to New York City, the comparisons are day and night. I’s almost like they’re their own separate countries. Yet to New York’s credit, you can be a bit more languid if you want, but most people don’t choose to stay in place like this to be a slug, and hopefully being so doesn’t derail your worth, your career, and aspirations. In fast cities, everyone is rushing, everyone is depressed, and nothing is what it seems and you have to imagine the worst to get over that ever present hump prematurely. Fast cities will bring the best of your ability once you live and let go, but it can also bring forth the lowest of your faith in humanity and luck and destiny when so much is based on beyond talent, but you know and who is willing to let you prove yourself…after you’ve already mustered the courage from the inside out and told yourself, “I am good enough”. The battle is never-ending.
And in cities like Detroit that are evidently indigent, is hometown pride capable, or allowed in such conditions? New York and LA may have a lot of money and a lot of glitz, but it’s not without their own version of nastiness and deplore. The dichotomy of city life is presented on every other street you walk on that isn’t Rodeo Drive or Madison Avenue. As Detroit holds the title of being the city with the biggest case of bankruptcy in America’s history, it’s still the Motor City with an extensive and glorious past of its contribution to American music. Hometown pride is most important when it comes from the people that know their town best, have experienced its ups and downs with it, and understand its struggles. There’s is lot to rip apart when it comes to Detroit’s lack of civility and dirt poor landscape, but the people will stand for its resilience and vigor in having to adapt the character of an everyday hustler that even the biggest nitwit of a NYC Fortune 500 can appreciate if he ever really comprehended the laws of seduction and power.
I’m recalling the sentiment of hometown pride as while I relocated to New York, in the three years since, I’ve grown towards being grateful that I was born and raised in Massachusetts. The morals that were taught to me; the education I received; the multi-cultural classmates I still remember, I hold very dear to me that the the idea that I was an individual that should be celebrated as I was was exhibited in spades. And yes, I believe I definitely got more for my buck in Boston than in Manhattan, even if the latter still rules in having pieces and fashions most states don’t. Due to the decades placed harsh conditions of a dog eat dog world in New York, the maltreatment of its citizens that honestly still exists, makes even the most jaded person at times selfish and their level of distrust increased for the majority of the people they meet. You take what you can get and hopefully everything will still come out your way. It sounds ridiculous on paper, and despite so many New Yorkers not actually from the state, this recurring notion of how to behave arises often times.
In 2013, there were a trying couple of months for my hometown, following the tragedy of the terrorist inclined Boston Marathon bombing. When I went back home for a short visit, I did make it a point to visit where it happened as candid memoriams were placed in Copley Square. Everywhere I saw was the new slogan to get Bostonians and all of Massachusetts through their darkest moment yet, “Boston Strong”. When the bombing happened, I was in New York, and I was hurt that the same block I had walked alone, with friends, with family was where people got hurt and killed. They had attacked my home. Just because I left didn’t mean I forgot. Here in New York, our biggest frenemy in cities, showed us support with words of unity from Wall Street to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. To be truthful, some probably compared the tragedy to 9/11 in ways. Now we had a day to mark in which a cloud draped what is treated as a state-wide holiday every year. April 15, 2013 is now immortal.
Back home while visiting, I teared up looking at the mini field of sneakers and baseball caps that aligned the victims that obtained injuries and the 3 victims that died. I recalled my mother telling me: “It’s been hard. They attacked our home. But we’re doing our best. We got this new thing called ‘Boston Strong;, but you can feel the sadness”. I saw online my friends and family that still lived there, posted pics of Boston, in tribute to their city, the only one they’ve ever loved. The most commons ones were, “There’s strong, then there’s Boston Strong”, and the quote, “Boston, you’re my home” with an image of the city.
In the months that passed, whenever applicable, I would include #BostonStrong, keeping the spirit alive that because my city was built on resilience and I was still connected. Rolling Stone proceeded to publish a hard-hitting news article on the bomber, with a pseudo glamour shot of the cretin for the cover that sparkled outrage. Long-standing Mayor Menino denounced their decision that came across as glamorization, and our version of Duane Reade, CVS, announced they would not be selling that issue. Again, I was proud of my hometown and Mayor Menino in showing how we stuck together.
When the Boston Red Sox went on to the World Series in fall 2013, I believed every fan thought, after everything The Hub had gone through, a win would be wonderful, in honor and for the ones that got hurt and passed away from the bombings. I was heading back home after work when I found out about the news online through my phone. After the rough day I had myself, I was elated and happy. This was great news! I immediately wanted to be teleport back home to relish the victory as I likely would’ve been watching the game with one of my girls outside anyways. The street celebrations can be epic. I also read online in a news feed that back on Boylston where the tragedy took place became an impromptu spot to celebrate as some even kissed the yellow stripe that marks the end of the marathon, right by the legendary Boston Public Library.
I was brought back to life a bit after hearing news of the win. My hometown pride was at an all-time high and it reminded me of another reason why I came to New York. Whenever I would came back home at one point as a real grown woman, my city would be proud of me. See, I did it. For the World Series, we did it. Home is where the heart is for a reason, and every since I left I now understand why. Would I choose to be from any other place in the world? Maybe England? Japan (don’t judge me! Why not!) But I’ve never been shy to answer, when someone asks where I’m from (and I know look forward to this even more in New York) that “I’m from Boston”.
To quote the MVP, David “Big Papi” Ortiz: “This is our fucking city”.