Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Tales of One City - Labor Day Weekend in Boston

The year was 1971 just about a month after my dad ended his life. My brother packed up the car with me and a couple of his friends and we drove to 700 Commonwealth Avenue also known as "The Zoo" back in the day as I entered my freshman year at Boston University.

I had a roommate from hell, well actually she was from Long Island, who had arrived before me. With her perfect pink manicured hands she decorated my half of our dorm room complete with plastic flowers pinned to my bulletin board. I'm sure she thought I was the roommate from hell as I cried unpacking my things and did not express gratitude to her that she had taken the time to decorate my half of the room and line the drawers of my dresser. She got the R.A., the Resident Assistant who was wonderful. I told her what happened and she told me that I could go to the Counseling Center on Tuesday. A group of us went out to eat at Ken's Steak House in Copley Square. My roommate from hell had decided that I just had to do something with my hair before we went out to eat though and didn't I have any make up to put on? What a start to my Boston adventure. I had the chef's salad with Russian Dressing. There was a familiar taste of New York comfort food that got me through until Tuesday.

Every year at this time the permanent residents of Boston begin to grumble. I used to grumble - a lot and bemoan the end of summer heralded by U Haul lined streets and students flooding "my city." The anniversary reaction of that Labor Day weekend now 43 years ago haunted me with a melancholy that began the week before Labor Day and continued well through the winter months.

While the residents of Boston grumble, the students arrive with equal parts eager anticipation and trepidation. Freshmen, after being at the top of the hill as high school seniors now feel that sense of smallness and uncertainty as they enter their new academic careers. Those returning to their campus home away from home are excited to be reunited with friends and classmates eager to regale their tales of summer. There is a bustle of activity that once used to annoy me but that now fills me with hope.

Rather than feel resentment and frustration over these next few weeks, I'll be sure to leave extra time to get from point A to point B as the population of our fair city swells. Tom and I will go to Gloucester on Saturday to pick up his bib for the Around the Cape 25K he is running on Monday. Sunday we will be sure to not cross the divide into the land of the students at Cleveland Circle and anything we need to do we will do on this side of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

Even though I arrived in Boston as a freshmen with a heavy heart and over a decade of challenges with paralytic polio and domestic violence, I had a sense of hope that there was a life beyond what I had lived. Even through all of the pain and suffering, confusion and different paths I traveled, I kept that spark of hope alive. I am so glad I did so that I could arrive here now poised to enjoy Labor Day weekend joining together with the energy of hope as a new academic year, as a new season begins.

Boston may be two tales of one City over Labor Day Weekend but once the crazed frenzy of the weekend subsides, we settle into a rhythm that hopefully will yield an amazing harvest in the years to come.

"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

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