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The one day like no other

So I'm walking down Boylston Street on the most perfect morning the world might ever know when I bump into Manny Ramirez sashaying out of the Boston Public Library, his arms stacked high with books. We're talking Plato, Kant, Camus.

"Hey, man," he says, smiling in that way he always does. "Not even the Boston Athenaeum is this good."

No, it isn't. Manny's no sooner descending the steps to the subway when I run across Tommy Nee, the head of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association.

He's midconversation with a group of cops, but I swear I hear him say, " . . . time to admit that we're some of the highest paid officers in the nation and agree to a fair settlement."

Holy cow, what's going on here? It's noon somewhere, so I duck into the bar at Abe & Louis, where I spy what may be the most perfect head of hair that I have ever seen.

"Mitt?" I ask, surprised to see him goofing off in the middle of the day.

The governor takes a long gulp of a ginger ale and replies, "In flesh and follicle." The guy slays me every time.

"I'm taking down the elevated Green Line at North Station in time for the Democratic Convention," he explains with a hiccup. "Calls for a celebration."

OK, something strange is happening, but it's not until I check the calendar that I realize what it is: Opening Day at Fenway.

You see, it's the one day of the year when anything and everything enters the realm of the possible, the one day when the slate is wiped clean, when hope is yet to be perverted by fact, because fact is whatever we choose to believe is true.

Forget New Year's Day. When the Red Sox return to Boston, a fresh page is truly turned, a meaningful cycle starts anew, an entire world is scented by the wonders of the future rather than fouled by the failures of the past. Better luck next year? Well, it's now next year, and the luck will be better indeed.

There hasn't been a pitch thrown at Fenway since the early evening of Oct. 14, 2003, nearly six long months ago. At 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, the temperature dropped to minus 7 degrees at Logan Airport (minus 35 with windchill), minus 11 at Great Blue Hill. There were hours, days, even weeks when it seemed like spring was fallacy, a goal that would never be fulfilled.

Come winter, Boston is in a chokehold. Daytime is happenstance, a flimsy ribbon of occasional light separating a late dawn from an early dusk. The outdoors are little more than an unforgiving obstacle course, a place to persevere and escape from.

But always, there is the specter of this day and the renewal that comes with it -- a reason as much as a season.

So when I step onto the street, whom do I see but Nomar Garciaparra, laughing hilariously as he asks Red Sox owner John Henry, "Remember that time you tried to trade me?" Then they slap each other's backs.

But no time to spare. There's a grand reopening celebration of the Hancock Observatory. In Park Square, the Saunders brothers have come together for a long, tearful hug. Down at City Hall, Tom Menino is randomly forgiving people in the hallway. The new Convention Center is booked from now through infinity.

Does it get any better than this? It does, actually. Back in the Globe cafeteria, my publisher stops me at the all-you-can-eat foie gras bar and says, "Great work out of Afghanistan. I'm putting you in for a raise." I don't even know if I can spell it, never mind find it, but I thank him profusely and move on.

Bad weather? Forget about it. On this one day, the rain is dry. The cold is warm. Last October is a fading photograph on a grandparent's end table. The present is vibrant green turf, gleaming white uniforms, steaming hot dogs, screaming fans filling every seat in the stands.

It's the day when possibility outweighs reality, which in Boston makes it the best day of all.

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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