Re-Writing History on the Duck Tour

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My son doesn’t remember when I changed his diaper in the women’s locker room at my alma mater, me in my shin guards and old college soccer jersey, gasping for breath and thrilled to have an excuse to sub out of the alumni game. But I do. And he vaguely remembers visiting the Boston University bookstore after his father had run the Boston Marathon. I had pointed how close I had once lived to Fenway Park, and let him marvel at the “T,” the trolley that rolls through campus. I think he’ll remember his trip to Boston this time, though, if nothing else but because he got to drive the Duck Tour boat on the Charles River. But I’ll remember it because it’s the first time Boston no longer was just mine.

I signed my family up for the Duck Tour so that we could get a little Boston history beyond my own: “And here’s where we practiced playing soccer. And here’s where I took classes. And here’s where we had a blowout party … er, never mind.”

If you’ve never seen the Duck Tour, it’s an amusing tour of a city via World War II amphibious landing craft that rides on land and then on water. Our Boston tour took us past many of the historical sites, including the Boston Common, Beacon Hill and several old churches. I learned things I hadn’t known even while living in the city for four years, things beyond the best restaurants for New England clam chowder and where to buy beer.

Then we rode on the Charles River where both of my kids got a chance to “drive” the boat. I snapped pictures as the tour boat operator asked where everyone was from. “New Jersey,” I answered, though a part of me is from Boston, too. But I didn’t tell him that. As we pulled up river nearer to my former campus, I realized I’d never been on the river before. I’d crossed over it. I’d played soccer next to it. I’d watched over it from my dorm room. But this was the first time I’d ever gotten into a boat and pulled out on it. And it was my kids’ first time, too.

After the tour, we took on the obligatory trip to the BU Bookstore, now a Barnes & Noble, where I bought a new BU t-shirt and a BU soccer ball. Outside, I pointed out my dorms and where I took classes, and I showed the kids how close I had lived to Fenway Park. And this time, it meant something to them. This was their trip. Their memories. Their Boston.

And then we left Boston, and a little bit of Boston left me, too. Until next time.

Photo courtesy of MommaSaid

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