When I was a kid in 1998, bald and in the middle of cancer treatments, all I wanted was to be NORMAL. Not the sixth grader with bruises and scars, not the one who was allowed to miss all the classes, not the one who people had to treat gently. I wanted to have the same 12-year-old adventures as everyone else, and that included walking the Freedom Trail on our class field trip.
I was so excited for that spring day – on top of the adventure of BOSTON my dad was chaperoning, something that never happened (my parents always coached our teams and shuttled us Girl Scouts around, but we had our own family trips instead of them chaperoning).
But as we were getting ready to board the buses, I got called down to the front office – and it was my mom on the phone, saying that my counts had come back and we needed to go to the hospital for a blood transfusion. We were all crushed – she had argued with my doctor but there was no wiggle room (unless we were already on the bus, which my classmates were now boarding).
For the past 21 years, I’ve thought often of that trail. In fact, most of my Boston jobs have been ON it. But I’ve never done the whole thing… until now!
Yesterday dad and I finally did the whole trail. 6+ miles of walking over 6 hours, starting at the Common and ending at the top of Bunker Hill.
Along the way, we saw the Sacred Cod, compared cemeteries (and found Copp’s Hill to be the most favorable burying place), and made extensive lists of historical facts to research when back home.
We saved most of the indoor attractions for a less sunny day so we would have time for the final leg, but did make time for Old Ironsides!
We met fellow explorers along the way – a young boy and his mom who wanted to find the trail in order to play Pokémon Go, a family from Scotland, many people in historical garb who looked even hotter than we felt.
Honestly, I’ve been to some of the great cities of the world, and I’ve lived in Boston for a decade. And yet I was shocked at how powerful I found the trail – not just because we were slightly delirious in the blazing sun, not just because I had been dreaming of this for 21 years, but because of the story the trail tells about a scrappy group of people believing in fighting for something bigger than themselves.
This kind of quest – with decision points along the way and a trusty fellow traveler at your side – is my favorite way to spend a day and remember what matters in this world. I am so grateful that I am still alive today to live and learn something new… and get the pressed penny to prove it.