My first year in Charleston as a repatriated expat from Amsterdam has been pretty awesome. You can’t beat the weather, the people, the charm, the food and the beauty of the low country. You could say I’m enamored with my new hometown and often find myself comparing it to all the places I used to live. In many ways it’s coming out on top. Still, there’s a lingering fierce connection to another place I used to live.
I recently returned from a quick trip up to Boston, which was my home two hometowns ago, for 17 years. After boarding the plane at the small, but amazingly swift and efficient Charleston International Airport, I heard that familiar Boston accent and smiled. Then head after head graced with Red Sox caps came onboard along with folks donning shirts boldly declaring the Patriots Super Bowl champs, and finally, my personal favorite, that shirt with a hockey puck and a B in the middle. Those are my people. You can take the girl out of New England, but you can’t take the New England out of the girl.
There’s something very special about that small New England city which boasts arguably the best sports teams in the US, if not the world, that’s different from all the places I’ve lived. The Bruins were just in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Sox won the World Series last year and I don’t even have to mention the success of the Patriots. That historically Irish town is known for its rebellious beginnings and I’ve always wondered if that’s helped create if not the loudest, by far the proudest, loyal sports fans. If you’ve ever lived long enough in this area, you know what I’m talking about.
As my extremely turbulent flight was coming in fast over the freezing cold Atlantic, I was thinking about what I don’t miss about living that far north. There’s the freezing cold Atlantic, even in August, the grey blanket of clouds hovering overhead for nine long months, the very long lines in Logan Airport and the hideous traffic. Somehow, though, after stepping off the plane and heading into town, those thoughts seemed to fade away as my taxi zoomed me to my hotel for the next few days. I was home.
While the north can’t compare to the southerners’ famous friendly and polite hospitality, Boston rises to the top with its pride. It also happened to be Boston’s LGBTQ Pride weekend and the city was lit up with rainbows, and “ Let’s Go Bs” signs and statues sporting Bruins jerseys through the historic district. Even those famous ducklings making their way on the Common were lined up sporting Bruins’ jerseys. I felt extra special and lucky as I walked by with my BFF hearing tourists remark how cool those ducks were.
I went to Boston to celebrate my BFF’s birthday with my other BFFs and I couldn’t help but feel I was also celebrating Boston. Her birthday dinner was scheduled before any of us could know it would be at the same time as Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Some of us are die-hard Bruins fans and others are fans by default, so, of course during dinner we’d call out to Caroline who was keeping tabs on the game to periodically, like every 5-10 minutes, get the score.
After dinner we piled into an Uber still monitoring the game and arrived in the lobby of my hotel with one minute left. It didn’t end well for the B’s. Then we all strategized on what the B’s needed to do to bring the Cup home, as if by our hoping and wishing, we could make a difference.
I was back home in Charleston on my couch screaming at my television screen for the next two games of the Stanley Cup Finals rooting for my Bruins. Luckily, for me, and all the other loyal Boston sports fans that reside here, there are no professional sports teams in South Carolina. There’s no possibility of creating a rift with my new neighbors and southern friends on this front. Just add that to the list of what I love about Charleston.