I let my third set of tears drop somewhere in the neighborhood of 5:30 a.m. Commonwealth Avenue is quiet at that hour aside from another occasional car whizzing by. In the backseat of an Uber, I pass by Agganis Arena, a place that included a beautiful mess of families and friends standing outside of it only 12 hours before, needling their graduates to pose for photos. I half smile thinking about my own memories from those hours prior. I feel my face begin burn with emotion. The tear drops one minute before the driver asks me if I would prefer him to take a different route. I tell him no, this is perfectly fine. I want to soak up the city of Boston this way for what will probably be the last time in a long time. I want to remember this place with these new rose-colored recollections and a soundtrack of laughter playing behind them. I want to just sit and cry some happy tears for awhile.
My face has burned with many emotions over the year–dim shame, unbridled anger, and blue-gray sadness. But, this feeling was something entirely different, and I couldn’t quite label it so definitively. This emotion was a special brew of pride and happiness and love. Somewhere underneath those tears, I felt my insides swell with joy because someone I treasure ripped the red tape off of a seemingly unreachable finish line.
This life is filled with days that all blend together with demands and relentlessness. This life is filled with the things we don’t always want to do and the people we don’t always want to see. But, every now and again, this life offers us something rare and platinum, a memory that we forever etch in the sands of time. If we are even the least bit lucky, this life surrounds us with just a few solid people who make our breaths count.
And, if there’s anything I’ve learned in these tender 26 years, it is that you have to show up for those people. You have to get on the plane or jump in the car or ride on the train. Show your face. You have to be there, for the birthdays and the babies, the tunnels and the trenches. If you don’t ever do anything else, you simply have to be present with your hand raised high. This life is about showing up for the people who matter in the ways that mold their memories. There are wrinkles in time that a text message or Twitter mention will never do justice.
Boston is a place filled with my emotional land mines. But, this past weekend took a place I’ve never remembered fondly and finally gave me some blindingly beautiful memories to bring home. This past weekend reminded me that by showing up for the people who matter, they too show up for us in ways we didn’t even know we needed.