Maybe Boston is a second-rate city. Or maybe Boston, as I heard once, is just a city that thinks it’s a small town. A town of beans, according to our deeply embarrassing nickname. The subway service here stops at midnight, as if to say “so should you.” Our unnavigable streets clump and sprawl without a unifying logic, like a mass of tangled hair. Our sidewalks are bumpy slivers, wide enough to accommodate about one-and-a-half adults across, uncomfortably.
We may not live in New York or Los Angeles. But we do not want to live in New York or Los Angeles. On Monday, President Obama called us “tough.” Maybe we are, or maybe what’s tough is just the rocky soil in which we have elected to plant ourselves. We are a people who have accepted something smaller and less grand, in the belief that it is sturdier.