“If anyone ever tells you that they’re from Chestnut Hill,” the police officer is chatting idly with me while the funeral service runs inside, “You tell them ‘Bullshit. Are you from Brookline, Newton or Boston?'”
I laugh, and remark that a fellow Patch reporter and I fight over who doesn’t want to cover things in Chestnut Hill. “Fighting” is a strong term, and mostly it ends up being me trying to pry a story off of her already-overloaded plate. I am standing outside of the first funeral I’ve ever covered–for the first journalism job I’ve ever held (I hesitate to remark that it may be my last, but journalism is not an industry I am actively keeping my resume open for).
Today, I ran past the same funeral service and remembered that brief exchange. I can’t recall for whom the service inside was. I recall she was a humanitarian of some kind, and active in the Jewish and/or Russian communities in town. I am trying to say ‘Myla Goldberg’ is her name, although I realize a few blocks later that this is because I am a hipster, and am thinking of a Decemberists song (about a real, but different person).
In spite of it being spring, temperatures have dropped back below freezing. In protest, I am out for a run, but in deference to the fact that it’s cold, I am shortening that run. Which is why I find myself passing the funeral home, and why I also find myself thinking about the way memory and location works. I am very much prone to forgetting things when I walk through a door, but I am also prone to associating certain events with certain locations–after a tough break-up, it took me months to walk past a particular tree where we had met up a few times over one summer.
In the same way, I had a hard time breaking the association with the Reservoir and a missing persons case–which ended tragically–during my time as a reporter. A young man who went missing after a night out with friends washed up at one particular corner of the reservoir. I still feel for his family when I recall the story, heartbroken as they were. I got wistful for months passing the reservoir and thinking about them, and the man he must have been for both his family and his school.
The story hit me more than I had expected, and in a weird way, I am glad. I am glad that that kind of thing never became commonplace to me as a journalist. I am glad that I could still connect to the sorrow of a situation, even as an outside observer. It may not have made me a fantastic reporter, but it’s what makes me a good writer and a good human being.
In the same way, I always remember that one time I turned a corner at what I like to call False Corner Cove and discovered I still had about a third of the Reservoir track to go, each time I hit False Corner Cove. I recall slipping and falling whenever I hit the appropriate intersection on Comm Ave. I recall turning around when the ice got too thick around the back of the Reservoir, and heading further up Commonwealth.
I also recall the feeling of glory–long after the fact--when I realized I’d completed my first 5k (equivalent).
If memory is a part of what defines us as people, then I really hope that more of the memories of good runs and odd moments continue to make me into a better, more determined runner.
Which, remember, I still find a fairly odd sentiment to actually write down.
Shirt of the Day: “Trust Me, I’m the Doctor”
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