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OTBH: A World Gone Topsy Turvey

So let each dweller on the Bay/Fold Boston in his heart -Ralph Waldo Emerson


My name is Erin, and I'm from Boston.

I didn't grow up in city limits. I don't live there now. Even when I did live there, I lived in Watertown, Medford, Somerville, Brighton. I worked in Cambridge for a while. I lived in Salem. I went to undergrad 17 miles outside the city.

It doesn't matter.

When people ask me where I'm from, I never hesitate. Boston, I tell them. I'm from Boston. I went to grad school next to the MFA, and I performed a wedding ceremony for some of my best friends in the Public Gardens. I worked in Copley for years, and in the Borders in Downtown Crossing. I watched the Sox lose. A lot. Seriously, they've never won when I've seen them play in person. Ditto the Bruins. My stories are just like those of anyone who's from Boston. They're stories that take on the shape of the cobblestones and the steeples and the harbor and Fenway and the Citgo sign and the Charles and Bobby Orr, flying through the air.

Wait, I'm sorry, this is OTBH, not Olde Tymey Erin History. Let me start again.

On December 7, 2012 (link) we ran a piece about a Bruins game that was played in the aftermath of bombing of Pearl Harbor. Maybe some of you saw it, maybe you missed it since it was still during the depths of the lockout -- in any case, 'm gonna be a jerk for a second and quote myself (otherwise I'll have to sue myself for plagiarism, probably):

And so on the night of December 9th, as the Bruins played the Blackhawks at home, the arena was filled with fans eager to see a game, and perhaps to engage in some semblance of normalcy in a world gone topsy-turvy. As per usual, the anthem was played at the start of the game -- but unlike other nights, the arena was completely dark when it was, except for a spotlight shining on the American flag.

Tonight's game against the Sabres will be very different from the one played that night in December -- the country's not about to engage in a war, the game won't be stopped halfway through to listen to the President speak. But the game will -- as sports always, amazingly do, in these sorts of moments -- provide a place for the Boston community to gather and to grieve and to be angry and hopeful and proud. The game will be played, because screw whoever did this, if they think they can keep Boston folks from screaming SHOOOOOOT during a(nother) terrible powerplay. The game will be played because that's what we do, even after the unimaginable happens. Even in a world gone topsy-turvey.

I wrote in December that I thought there was something really striking about the image of an arena full of thousands of people all sharing together in a communal moment of fear, grief, and determination. Tonight, that's exactly what will be happening; the fans will be sharing their love and sadness with each other -- and also with the team, a team who was rattled just like the rest of us, and who understand what they mean to the city, especially now.

Andrew Ference said it best, maybe:

It's about making sure that you have some sense of community where everybody can get together and celebrate what's good and do those things that are a very important part of this city and part of this region that a lot of people do really gel together...When you look at it in the big picture of things you have people saving peoples' lives last night, and we're just going out to play a game, but for a lot of people that game will be a chance to, not just tomorrow night but the next game after, it will be a chance to get back some normalcy as well.

Normalcy and celebration and the chance to be with a community of hockey fans -- and not just Bruins fans, but fans of hockey. That's what the Bruins were able to give people on December 9, 1941, and what they'll be able to give the people of Boston tonight, and Friday night, and many nights after. The chance to cheer and curse and be obnoxious as hell and celebrate the team, the city, and its people.

My name is Erin, and I'm from Boston. I won't be there at the game tonight in person, but you better believe I'll be there in spirit, as I'm sure many of us will. No matter where we are, we'll all scream and groan and hope for a Carl Soderberg sighting and wonder if Lucic will show up and if showing up will be bad news for Ryan Miller. Nothing will be magically fixed, and we won't all suddenly feel better. Monday will still have happened. But, as olde tymey fans of 1941 would attest, a game played "under the most extraordinary circumstances" -- it's a symbol of hope, pure and simple.

Stay safe and strong, kids. We love you.