I go into Boston today for my meeting. While I know I will be met with some level of rush hour traffic, my goal is to get into early and leave late. Part of me is worried -- the part that doesn't want to mussy up her hair by walking around too much or get a sunburn for staying outside for too long (because I'm Irish and I get sunburns when I go on runs with too little shade).
People in the Boston area view what makes a Bostonian a Bostonian in two polar opposite ways. There are those who believe that, unless you were born and raised your entire life in one of Boston's neighborhoods (Dorchester, Roxbury, Brighton, Allston, Charleston, etc), you are not a Bostonian. People who live in Somerville, Cambridge, Newton, and so on, don't count. Even though I was born in Boston (and born just a mile down the street from where I ended up going to college), I would not be part of this list, since I grew up in two towns over from Boston proper.
Then there is what I would call the liberal Bostonian. The borders are blurred with the liberal Bostonian. They include the surrounding towns (like Watertown or Medford) in what makes Boston "Boston", if only because they understand that Boston is a city of annexed towns, and it was just luck (or politics) as to why certain towns were annexed and others weren't.
The liberal Bostonian is also incredibly welcoming. Moved to Boston a couple years ago from out of state? Congratulations on becoming a Bostonian! Going to college in Boston? Welcome aboard!
Really, at the end of the day, the main requirement to be a Bostonian is to have Boston in your heart. Boston is home to so much more than the 600,000 residents that have "Boston" on their license plates. Boston is home to the millions of college students who come from around the globe -- many of whom stay in Boston after everything is said and done. We have "honorary Bostonians" in regards to athletes and celebrities (David Ortiz being a great example). Boston is something you breathe in and live out. It makes you smile every time you see the skyline. It gets you revved up when the Sox win a game, even if you don't care one bit about baseball.
Maybe I'm bias because I get disqualified on a technicality based on the first group of Bostonians. But I feel like the welcoming idea of what makes a Bostonian a Bostonian exemplifies all that is good about Boston. Boston has a pretty ugly side (just look at the 1970s busing crisis if you need an example), but it also has an incredible, beautiful side. That side was shown to the world after the Marathon Bombing. A side that shows we're not the racist, undereducated, perpetually drunk stereotype that seems so prevalent. That we are filled to the brim with love and pride for our city and its people (except during rush hour).
So I go in today with as much hope as I can muster, without actually getting my hopes up. We'll see if I end up shopping Newbury Street in celebration, or as retail therapy. Either way, I'm enjoying one of my favorite shopping destinations by around 3 o'clock this afternoon. And nothing's going to stop me there.