Leaving Home

I’m sitting on the bed I’ve slept in since I was six, and I can’t believe the words I’m typing: today, I leave the city I’ve lived in since I was a year old. For most of the past twenty-four years, Boston has been my home. It always will be. My heart and soul are as entrenched here as Dunkin Donuts, 2 AM closing times, and Boston sports.

I don’t remember who won my first game, the first Red Sox paraphernalia I wore, or the first prize in my first box of Cracker Jacks, but the specifics are not important; I have a childhood filled with Fenway memories. I’ve seen Opening Day, Marathon Monday, countless David Ortiz clutch hits, and three World Series championships. If I’m not watching the game live, I’m watching it on tv or yelling at the radio broadcast in my car. It’s the blessing, being a Bostonian; we live and die for our sports. Mine has and always will be baseball.

No matter the renovations, the new seats, the updated technology, Fenway Park has withstood the test of time. It feels to me the same way I imagine it felt in the early 1900s, the 1950s, 1980s, like a fortress, a footprint from a time gone by that remains the same no matter what changes around it. It has been my safe haven. At every difficult time in my life, Fenway Park has always been here to distract and comfort me. Somehow, in the center of a bustling city, next to a highway teeming with traffic night and day, the small ballpark is its own world. You don’t hear the cars honking in immovable Brookline Ave traffic, or Bostonians screaming outside; inside Fenway Park, the things that matter are tradition, history, and baseball. And for those reasons, it’s the most beautiful place in the world.

I had the privilege of walking around Fenway one night before this season’s Opening Day. It was late March, cold enough that I was wearing a long coat and boots and still felt chilled to the bone. The park was still, quiet, almost ghostly. I half expected to see Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky emerge, young and strong, ready to take the field. In its emptiness, the park seemed haunted, lonely, longing for her fans to come and fill her with joyful noise; I thought that she must be so lonely all winter long without us. But I also felt years, decades, over a century of moments. They hung suspended all around me, so tangible that the air felt thick with them. Imagining moments I’d never experienced, incredible games I’d never seen, I could barely breathe. I felt magic everywhere.

When I decided to move to California, leaving my team was one of the first things that came to mind. Be a Boston sportswriter who lives on the opposite side of the country? Dumb. Move away from the Red Sox? Traitorous. Live farther than a fifteen-minute walk from Fenway Park? Impossible. The devil on my shoulder whispered in my ear that poignant quote from Fever Pitch, “You love the Red Sox, but have the Red Sox ever loved you back?” Yes, my heart responded. Maybe not every season, maybe not every player, but much like our iPhone batteries, life is never going to stay at 100% for long. Players like Johnny Pesky and David Ortiz have loved us more than enough to make up the difference.

But what has truly, always loved me back is Fenway Park. That hulking green giant smack dab in the middle of our beautiful city has stood its ground through financial crises, wars, gentrifications, and decades of crazy-ass Bostonians. And every time I walk up the ramp and see that field, I feel Fenway welcoming me home. And I know in my heart that there is something magical there that enables an inanimate structure to truly love us as much as we love her.

My last two nights here in Boston were spent at Fenway, and I cherished every second of them. I stuck around through all nineteen innings on Tuesday night, proud to be with members of Red Sox Nation as devoted as I am. I sat in the pouring rain last night, my family with me it, soaked in solidarity, refusing to leave my last game early, even at the risk of getting pneumonia. I wore the same outfit that I wore on Opening Day; it felt like an appropriate way for a fashion blogger to bookend her baseball season. And even though I teared up a few times during last night’s game, my memories here are so happy that I smiled the entire time.

Fenway Park and the Red Sox are my first real loves, so while I won’t be living here anymore, I’m leaving my heart here. With Fenway, with my team, with my city. I’m forever yours, Boston, faithfully.

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