Root For the Home Team

31 Oct

No matter how far I travel, no matter what cities I visit, where I live or how many life-changing cultural experiences I undergo, I will never forget my home. I will never forget my up-bringing or where I came from, because sure right now I live in a tiny room on the 3rd floor of an old school apartment building in the capital of the Czech Republic, but my real home is a off-yellow colonial with eggplant shutters on a quiet road with no streetlights or sidewalks.

My home is Sutton, Massachusetts.

Image(Above: our gazebo in the center of town. You’re not a true resident until you’ve awkwardly posed here with your prom date)

Ever heard of it? Probably not. It has a population of 8,000, one school system, & a giant building in the center of town that houses the police department, fire station, town hall & library. Neighbors on both sides of me have horses, we get plowed last in the winter & it’s not uncommon to be stuck behind a tractor on the way home. Sutton is so boring, but I will always love it there.

Moving abroad I obviously say I am from Boston, because people know where that actually is. I mean yeah, Sutton is a good 50mins on the Mass. Pike & I don’t have a wicked hard accent…but I have worked at Dunkins for 3 years, say ‘bubbler’, ‘rotary’, ‘jimmies’ & ‘grinder’ & it is a mortal sin to date Yankees fans. So while I’m not technically from Boston yeah, I would say that I’m pretty f-ing close.

Telling people that I am from Boston abroad always gets the same reaction: favorable. Their eyes go wide & they comment on how beautiful the city is if they’ve been there & how beautiful they hear it is if they haven’t been there (which I assure them is very true). 

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ImageI mean, come on. It’s surrounded by water, gets all four season to a full extent, has A TON of history, delicious food & is overall just a wicked awesome place. I love Boston.

Part of being from Boston, or New England in general (aka: the rest of Mass.) is you are bred from a young age to love sports. Love as in worship. As in your whole entire family loves sports, you love sports & your future children will love sports. It just goes hand in hand with being from this part of the country. The great thing about Boston sports though is that we’re so good. Finals, playoffs, world series, you name it–expect to plan that game day party in advance. From the hustling Patriots lead by the most gorgeous QB, to the fiercely relentless Bruins, to the impressive long history of the Celtics–we do the damn thing. And yes, it feels nice to win & chant our name…

But in my opinion, a true Boston fan is a Boston Red Sox fan.

ImageWhy? Because they’re not always so good. Sometimes they lose. They catch balls with one hand & don’t hustle to the bases & are just plain awful. But we still love them. Why? Because that’s what being a true fan is. You always support your time–win or lose. You never turn your back on them. It’s called loyalty. It’s called believing & having faith that they can turn things around.

My up-bringing in central Mass. dealt with my saint of a Grampy being forced to lock himself in the bedroom during the game. A man who I have never heard raise his voice scream his head off & curse like no other during the game. The team he has been rooting for his whole life which he kindly nicknamed ‘The Red Bums’, is the bane of his existence. So much that he promised us that when he dies, we have to put on his gravestone: The Red Sox Put Me Here. I’m not kidding.

Growing up with Grampy, plus my dad, plus my two brothers, plus a ton of male cousins, I have had no choice but to follow sports. But the importance of these traditions never really hit me until I moved abroad.

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(Above: Out watching Superbowl 2012 with friends while studying in Paris, surrounded by bandwagon NY fans, wtf else is new)

When I was studying abroad in Paris in spring 2012, the Pats made it to the Superbowl. Superbowl Sunday is a HUGE deal to begin with, but when it’s your team? It’s a holiday. It’s a day full of appetizers, alcohol & aww-ing at how cute the horses in the Budweiser commercials are. And here I was, celebrating alone. Well, alone as in no one else around me understood how important that day was. I made a shirt, I painted my face, I cheered, I screamed. They lost & I cried. I cried like my brother did when Nomar Garciapara got traded. It’s a pain that only your team can give you. I felt so homesick. Like I needed to fly home & in between my Grampy/Dad/brothers scowling & storming out of the room, hear Mama G saying a re-assuring ‘Well, you can’t win every game’. Heartbreaking. 

Now that I’m older & have been to a few more games, I feel like I need to represent my team even more here in Prague. There’s been countless debates with all the boys in my TEFL class about football & defending Brady’s honor. But I never back down. After a major upset for what was a super close season for the Bruins, I can’t say I was the only one who was surprised to hear that the Red Sox were headed to the World Series. But I had hope.

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Saying I am from Boston has always been important to me while traveling, but this year, it has become so much more. After the unspeakable tragedies from the Marathon, I feel like everyone in New England has become a little closer. I can’t even describe how much this day affected me. It just seemed so unreal. A marathon that my own dad ran years ago, that my cousins & friends were watching, & one that if I went to school in Boston would also be present at. It was so close. Sure, you hear about things overseas, or tragedies in small towns in the midwest, but this was my home. I used to go to that exact street with my ex-boyfriend to our favorite restaurant. I could picture the scene.

It always blows my mind when it’s so unexpected. These people were running a race. They had trained months & months for that day, were crossing a dream off their bucket list. And then the bombs went off. I can remember being at school in Rhode Island & just wanting to go home. I couldn’t turn off the news. I couldn’t stop crying or shaking. It was so awful. It was unthinkable. Why was this happening to us? Who was trying to hurt us? 

Then the defense instinct kicked in. We had to hunt him down. You want to mess with us? A group of people who have a history of working for everything they have. Who have family that came over years & years ago who still live in the same exact house. People who deal with some of the most unbearable weather in the country & are still expected to drive to work. Have you seen our sports teams? Or, more importantly, have you seen our sports fans? We are loyal, dedicated, ruthless, tough, faithful but most importantly…we’re a family. 

While I couldn’t believe the horrendous footage I was seeing that day, I also was amazed at all the heroes. The ones in uniform: police officers, the firefighters, the hospital workers, but then there were the heroes off the street. People who rushed to help the fallen, runners who finished the marathon & immediately ran to donate blood, the local residents & restaurants who opened their doors to all those affected because we were all going through this together. It was an amazing act of humanity. It showed how resilient we truly are.

Oh & him? Yeah, we caught him. In 4 days. & People took to the streets. They cheered, danced, high-fived cops. Personally, I think they should’ve dropped that coward off in Boston Common & see what happened, but I digress…

So fast-forward to this week. The Red Sox are in the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. An underdog team with a spotty reputation had somehow managed to make it this far. And my Grampy is locking himself in the bedroom cursing out the television, everyone is losing sleep from staying up so late & every fingernail in Boston is bitten off. This was it. The final game.

And then…we did it.

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We won. We swept them, actually with a final score of 6-1. I can’t believe it. But it goes so much deeper than this. Last night wasn’t about baseball. It was about something so much more. It was about community. It was about working together. Many of the bombing victims were asked to throw the first pitch at several games this season. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It’s bringing tears to my eyes just typing about it. Men in wheelchairs & women missing limbs stood at the pitcher’s mound in Fenway Park being hugged by players & applauded like the heroes that they are. Their courage & bravery to just wake up & get out of bed is amazing to me. & This, dear readers, is why we are Boston Strong. We love our medium iced extra extras from Dunkins, we will cut you off then flip you off in a rotary & say awful terrible things when the game is on…but when the time comes we are always there for each other. 

In the face of terror & hatred we do not cower. We get stronger. We stare down the evil. We stand together, fall together, but then always help each other get back up. Like Big Papi said ‘This is our f**king city, & nobody will dictate our freedom”. We are the 2013 World Series Champions, we went from the worst to first. Anything is possible. 

No matter what tragedies face us in the future, we will still remain strong, or more than that Boston Strong, because at the end of the day, we really are just all rooting for the home team ❤

-JG 🙂 

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3 Responses to “Root For the Home Team”

  1. ronald stacy November 30, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    Why would I want to read another book. This is better than any book I have read. Matter of fact this should be a book. Keep up the great writing.

  2. ronald stacy December 15, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    couldn’t have said it better. If everyone in the world knew how we stick together, they wouldn’t mess with us.

    • jgravesss December 15, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      Now I don’t think they will after what happened

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