I’m not Irish but I’ve always enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day. Any excuse to day drink is good in my book and everyone gets to be Irish for that day. To be honest, I’m not sure that the parade in Boston is even on St. Patrick’s Day, so this memory may not exactly follow the rules. But I remember this particular day really well because I documented it. I don’t keep a proper journal anymore but I did once. And in 2004, after attending the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Southie, an area of Boston that is primarily Irish, I wrote these words:
Today I really liked Boston.
No small feat, considering that my time in Boston involved reading, studying, writing, and taking exams for graduate school. Don’t get me wrong, I had my share of fun. Perhaps too much fun on some days (St. Patrick’s day was likely one of those days.) But I never felt as if I got to know the city because I always saw it as an extended layover. New York was waiting for me and I was waiting to go.
But that day I walked from Southie to Allston, which is about 5.5 miles (if I read google maps correctly), and I saw the entire city. Through the smell of urine and beer, listening to the sound of soft r’s, past Mom and Pop mini-marts, pubs and taverns, past rickety fences and wide open boulevards, over crippling cobblestones, into arrogant brownstone territory, and down Commonwealth Avenue as the trolley bell clanged. And all the while, the stoic Prudential Center stuck out into the sky.
I always think that you get to know a city best when you wander through it, when you feel the way it curves and bends, how it rises up and falls down. And I liked Boston best the day I walked it. It’s not every day you document being happy. But it seems appropriate that happiness was related to St. Patrick’s Day.