Part IV: My Bruins
World’s End ice pond in spring. In winter, it freezes up and the foliage around it recedes. It is a wide, open expanse.
I have a brilliant photo of myself in a pink Jofa helmet, itty-bitty black Bauer skates, pushing along a desk chair one cold morning at World’s End in Hingham, MA. Alas, the photo is many miles away from me now, tucked in the back of an album, somewhere. If I could post that photo, I would. That’s where I first skated. That’s where I fell in loving with skating.
And to leap forward, that’s where I eventually came to love the Bruins. They separate events, separate entities. My skating, the Bruins. But the Bruins are just as ingrained in me as skating is, by virtue of geography and the long, cold Massachusetts winter. Unlike the other three teams I’ve profiled that I consider myself a “follower” of, the Bruins are different. It’s natural that they’re my team. No thinking is required. It just is. They’re my team.
My earliest memory of a game (I was too young to remember those Oilers/Bruins match-ups of the late 80s) was one I attended. It was at the old Boston Garden. I was five. I don’t even remember the opponent. But I remember the decayed state of the Garden by that point, the musty smells, the filthy restrooms and the “Chipwich” bar (two chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream in between coated with chocolate chips) I ate that night. I also remember being partially obstructed by a beam.
But I remember falling in love with the swift movement of the players on the ice, the cold air, the bright lights.
A couple years later I attended a game at the gleaming, new FleetCenter (now of course the TD Garden). I was once again with my father, but also two of my aunts and an uncle. We were up in the 300s. The building sparkled. I do wish I had seen a game in the old Garden in its prime, in its hey-day. When the team was good, when the fans rabid. Things had changed. But the new house was fitting for a new era in the game.
Fast-forward to my most recent game at TD Garden. It was March 3, 2010. Just last year. I brought my girlfriend with me. I literally don’t think I could have been more excited. It was her first game, and I was elated when I proposed the idea of going and she said “okay!” happily. The Bs played the Leafs that night. A perfect divisional game, late season. There were several fights, and the Leafs tied the game after a Bruins lead. It went to overtime, and then, a shootout. The full package we had that night. My girlfriend and I had a few beers and enjoyed the view from the second row of the balcony. In the shootout, Miro Satan saved the day with a gorgeous goal. He’d go on to the be the playoff hero in the dismal ending that season.
But I wouldn’t have traded that night of hockey for anything. The excitement of the Olympics just a few weeks prior was fresh in my mind. The game was electric, and the sounds all new for the person I was sharing it with.
The fact that the Bruins triumphed just one month ago today is still somehow in the world of the unreal to me. Some day I’ll know.