Sometimes I don’t even realize the convenience in which this word slips out from under my tongue. Seasons have come and gone, and Hong Kong has slowly become my new home. When returning from work, a long trip or just a night out, I say, “I’m going home.” It’s automatic, quick and instantaneous.
But while it has served as a base for me over the past year and a half, I don’t feel as attached to it as I do to Boston.
That is what I hear myself saying when people ask, “Where are you from?” Though I’m actually from a town outside of Massachusetts’ capital city, I call Boston home. Most people are satisfied with this short and clear response, and are often familiar with the city’s rich history, popular culture, sports enthusiasts, world-renowned universities, famous architectural sites and of course, clam chowder.
When I woke up Tuesday morning and saw the news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, my heart dropped to my stomach. I watched footage of the marathoners nearing the finish line, excited, exhilarated, exhausted. Reaching the end of a marathon is a massive accomplishment: a poignant moment that ought to be shared among runners and their family members, friends, and even complete strangers cheering from the sidelines, reveling in collective ecstasy.
I can only imagine how quickly these feelings dissipated as smoke from the detonations quickly rose. The ground shook and people stumbled. Haze spread up and around the flags of every country, representing competitors of their designated nations and symbolizing the international impact that this event has on the world.
The words left my mouth achingly. Sharp sadness erupted in tears as the scene continued to unfold on my computer screen. Knelt at my bedside, I felt helplessness and anger, confusion and sorrow. Why was this happening? It was something you see in movies – a scene orchestrated with such precision and malignance, a dark, horrible catastrophe juxtaposed against a bright and glory-filled day. But this evil, heartless act of injustice quickly tainted the hearts and minds of those who should have been celebrating in happiness and not fleeing in fear.
Boston represents home, and home is something I think about every day. I think about it when I hear my mom’s voice on the phone. I think about it when my roommate and I discuss American films. I think about it when I’m at work and I need to rewrite British English into American English. I think about it when I travel and fill out my home address on arrival cards. And now, in the wake of this tragedy, I think about it and feel the pain of those whose hearts have a home in Boston.