I grew up being a fan of Boston sports teams. In my house, you cheered for the Red Sox and the Celtics and that was it. So, long before New Kids on the Block came into my life, I had a connection to Boston.
As a teenager, I always wanted to visit Boston, but never made it there. It wasn't until last year that I set foot on the ground our pilgrims walked almost 400 years prior. But it took me less than a minute to fall in love with the city.
I'd been to New York numerous times and loved the chaos and craziness of big cities, but people warned me that Boston was different. "They don't like outsiders." "They're not friendly." "If you get lost, you're screwed 'cuz they don't give directions." But I didn't believe them. In fact, shortly before my trip to Boston in 2012, I added "Hug a stranger in Boston" to my Bucket List to prove all the naysayers wrong.
And I did just that. On Commonwealth Avenue, just a few blocks over from Boylston Street, where yesterday's blasts happened, I saw a kind-looking stranger who didn't seem to be in a hurry and I told him what my goal was. Without hesitation, that man hugged me and didn't let go. I don't know his name. Don't know what he does for a living. Couldn't even tell you where he was headed, but for a minute, he took time out of his day and gave some stranger in a Celtics sweatshirt the best hug she'd ever gotten.
I knew then Boston wasn't the unfriendly place my followers had said it was on Twitter.
And, as I hear more stories about yesterday, the more firm I am in my beliefs. Boston isn't a city of thugs, rude people, snobs or selfish citizens. It's a city with heart and it took a piece of mine when I left last year.
My thoughts are with those directly affected by yesterday's attacks and also with those, like myself, who have left a small piece of themselves in that beautiful city.
Pray for Boston.