eI’ve lived in Boston for the past 22 years of my life. As a child, I watched the Boston Marathon every year because school vacation coincided with Patriots’ Day. I’d go with my grandmother or my dad and watch the runners as they pushed through the last six miles of race, pushing their bodies into overdrive after Heartbreak Hill. The crowds would roar as the runners approached the bandstand and, as an onlooker, you would consider yourself lucky if one of the runners waved back to you or gave you a peace sign. Every year, I’d stroll out to Commonwealth Avenue at 7 PM to watch the stragglers go by as the trash trucks combed up the empty rehydration cups and signs with “Go John! Fulfill your dreams” or “You can do it, Sara” on them. Sometimes, my dad and I would walk to the Boston College train stop to meet my mom after a day of work and watch the exhausted marathon runners and their families pour out of the train, hobbling to White Mountain Creamery to treat themselves for a job well done. The runners looked like Greek gods with their medals with blue and gold bands, silver Adidas capes, and broad smiles on their faces. It felt so nice being in the presence of greatness and achievement. I was impressed how average people could reach seemingly impossible goals.
Today, as I walked off the shuttle from my office to board the train at Alewife Station, I was greeted by runners who had just finished the race: laurels strewn on their neck and folded silver caps slung over their shoulders. They were going home after the Marathon. I missed the race this year, I was at work in an empty office, while most of my colleagues were on vacation with their kids who got this week off. It dawned on me that this might be my last Marathon for the next year, or possibly more. I was about to embark on my own race, the path to achieving my own seemingly impossible goal, which would require me to leave Boston and move to New York City.
As I got on the train, I started to think more about what leaving Boston means to me. The thought of leaving my family, friends, job, boyfriend and home behind is more heartache than I can bear some days. Beyond that, I’d be living a city that I have live in for my entire life, my city, Boston. I go through a list of things that I will not experience this year by being in New York: the North Shore waves crashing against the pale sand, salt and sand in my hair after a day of swimming and tanning in Marblehead, fireworks over the Charles River with a group of my high school and college friends after stuffing our faces with burgers and hot dogs, watching the Skull night riders biking rolling back into the Artisan’s Asylum lot by my boyfriend’s house after their evening ride, the faint smell of a wood burning fire after the first cool autumn night, the first snowfall when all the drivers forget how to drive again, the increase in traffic on the roads when it’s the first week of school, the first bloom of spring after a cold and harsh winter, the thick and unbearable Boston accent, the collegiate atmosphere of the Head of the Charles race in October, big sports wins that get everyone riled up and you can hear happy, drunk screams outside your window until the wee hours of the morning, and, of course, the ever reliable MBTA. There is so much I will miss about this city and many things that do not come to mind right now.
I feel miserable at the thought of a new beginning, where I need to leave the familiar behind. I’ve never left Boston; I’ve always lived here. I’ve never wandered beyond the reaches of my comfort zone with only my strength and vulnerability to lean on. At my happiest, I find this thrilling but, today, I’m anxious. At times, I break down in tears because studying at Cornell University and completing my MBA seems impossible. I can barely get through my Data Analytics homework and have a whole team of PhDs around me to help me with the homework. It is difficult and it seems almost unreachable. But maybe, just maybe, this is exactly what how the marathon runners feel when they make their first step, on their first jog, in the marathon training season. Every extra mile seems impossible and every breath is harder than the one before it. But after a year, they’ve crossed the finish line, taken the medal, and draped a silver cape on their back.
Today seems difficult, and every day it’s just a little bit harder to tear myself away from the familiar and trudge into the unknown, the world of analytics and business. In my heart of hearts, I know that an MBA at Cornell is my seemingly impossible goal. But I can’t help but wonder if there will be a girl in the audience that will be daunted by the Cornell graduates with their laurels, thinking to herself how impossible it all seems. Perhaps next year, with a little bit of effort and perseverance, I will cross the MBA finish line and get my own medal and have a cape draped on my back. Maybe it’s time for me to start training for my own marathon: an MBA at Cornell University.