I lived in Boston and Cambridge during two very tough years.

It was hard, it was cold, and for this spoiled New Yorker, things closed early and often seemed to take too long. I didn’t have a job, I burned through money, and I couldn’t make friends.

It was also a beautiful place to live. I found four-leaf clovers in your parks. I sat in the Prudential Center at four in the morning, eating Krispy Kremes as they came off the belt, hot and sweet and sticky with glaze. I meandered quietly through your cemeteries, looking at the epitaphs and the carved skull angels on red stone. I followed the red-marked path of the Freedom Trail, sometimes to learn and sometimes just because it was like following the Yellow Brick Road. I dressed like a pirate and got mistaken for Sam Adams. I sat in bars until (too-early) closing time, shrieking like a gleeful child through the 2004 MLB postseason, and sang Sweet Caroline with a brass band in Harvard Square.

I bundled up and walked through feet of snow to the Galleria. I peered at the lovers’ tomb in the MFA. I rode the Green Line just because sometime it’s fun to ride a trolley. I sat in South Station feeling the immensity of space; I cried on a bench in Harvard Square.

I wrote a novel, a novel about cities and home and wandering and places as characters in their own right. A story I would never have written without Boston.

And Boston is the place where I really began to learn to be myself. To be strong against odds, to love and forgive and forge ahead even when it feels like the world hates you. I would not be the person I am today without Boston.

Scary things happen. Painful things happen, and while they’re happening, you’re stuck between numbness and denial and tears. I’ve been there, in that place where you want to claw someone’s eyes out and ask them why, why my city? This is my city. Why are you cutting it open and making it bleed? It feels raw and makes your eyes burn. It makes you realize how much passes between you and the city every time you take a step, how interconnected your bloodstream is to the pavement, how permeable your skin is and how much of you is made of the air and water and dust and stone that surround you. You feel cellular, as if you are just a tiny thing that is part of this larger organism that is under attack.

And I thought I would only ever feel that for New York. This place was my home before I chose it. I didn’t expect that two years of being comforted by the skies over your city would make me feel like a small part of my heart was left there. From far away, I feel myself straining toward you in my mind, feeling my blood wanting to run northward.

Love you.