Thursday, July 04, 2013

Have a Glorious Fourth. (Oh, oh, Boston you’re my home…)

Depending on how you look at it, this is either a good day or a bad day to be out of Boston.

It will be a good day to be gone because the media will be all over themselves with “the first major public event since the bombing”. There will be all sorts of  “Boston Strong” and first responder hoopla that I could live without. (Honestly, unless you, or your friends and family, are among the victims, enough is enough; and if you, or your friends and family, were among the victims, I suspect that all the mawkish “tributes” in the world will never be enough.)

It’s a good day to be gone because half a million people will  be walking by my front door, making it difficult to get off my steps and onto the sidewalk, let enough to actually get anywhere once I manage to crawl into the madding crowd. And, if history is any predictor, at the end of the evening, when the last of the fireworks have gone bursting in air, at least a few of those half million will be peeing out in back of our building, since, when someone has got to go, anything looks like a toilet.

This will be a bad day to be gone because, well, being in Boston on the Fourth of July – 500 thousand revelers and media overkill and all – is actually pretty fun and exciting. Plus, I like to be able to open our living room curtains and watch the fireworks out the window.

But we’re in NYC, where, if history is any predictor, the fireworks will not be, IMHO, as excellent as those in Boston. A few years ago, we were in Manhattan on The Fourth, and had a hotel room that, quite wonderfully, had a balcony overlooking the Hudson. So we were able to watch them. I thought they were kind of boring, so I went in and watched the Boston fireworks on TV. (I don’t believe that will be an option this year, as the Boston Pops concert and fireworks won’t be nationally televised.)

Anyway, we’re not in NYC to celebrate The Fourth, which, quite conveniently, can be celebrated anywhere.

We’ll be in NYC because we love The City, and because, in the midst of his chemo treatment, my husband feels well enough to travel.

When someone is ill, the doctors talk about “quality of life.”

We are very happy that, throughout the last couple of years of one treatment after the other, for two different types of cancer, Jim has generally had pretty good “quality of life.”

If nothing else, we have amazed the medicals (and, for some, cracked them up), by having a pretty much unbroken string of going directly from chemo to lunch, generally at Scampo, which is in the hotel – formerly, the Charles Street Jail - right next door to MGH. We began this tradition in 2012, when the chemo Jim was undergoing was mild and “assistive.” Fortunately, we’ve been able to keep it up this year when the chemo is a lot more potent.

The first chemo round had a DIY element, in that, after a couple of hours in the hospital with Drug Number One, they sent Jim home with Drug Number Two running for the next couple of days via a pump. Jim’s showing up with the chemo pump whirring amazed the Scampo staff (and, for some, cracked them up): not something they saw every day of the week. (We were hard to miss. While the pump-whirring man purse was somewhat discreet, the bright green bag containing the pump’s take-down supplies was anything but. We were hard to miss.)

Anyway, the new chemo regimen is different – all infused at the hospital – and this week is an off week. So we’re taking our “quality of life” on the road.

While “quality of life” is a wonderful thing to have, our preference, of course, is to also have some decent “quantity of life.”

The Fourth of July is actually an occasion to think about both.

As a nation, we are blessed with fairly high “quality of life.”

I’m not one of the jingoistic types convinced that we are so damned exceptional that no place else on earth has life quality as good as ours, let alone better. (The data suggest otherwise.) But, for the most part, this is a pretty good place to live, thanks to our geographic isolation, separation from the crazy squabbles of the past (think Yugoslavia), natural resources, judicial and political institutions (however imperfect), singular ability (so far) to absorb immigrants and turn them into Americans, and the wildly impressive genius of the Founding Fathers.

And, health aside (we certainly aren’t the longest lived people on earth), thanks to that geographic isolation and separation from the crazy squabbles of the past, we have pretty good quantity of life as well. Civil War aside, we haven’t had wars that wiped out generations of young men. And we have never experienced warfare in which there have been mass civilian casualties.

So, while I do fret over our future, I think that our natural centrism will prevail and we’ll be okay. So I’m generally happy, generally content, and generally proud to be an American.


And generally happy, generally content, and generally proud to be Bostonian. Even if I do have to admit that New York is the greatest city on the face of the planet.

Last year’s Fourth of July outing.

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