Then you noticed the other British ships in the harbor, how they were armed, how exposed you were, how there were a lot of them (and so few “Indians”!).

You chose not to think much. It was too stressful.

The next thing you remember is the hacking of the boxes themselves. It was so systematic, but hard work. You were sweating within a quarter of an hour, despite the icy evening. For a while they let you stop hacking and take a turn raking tea leaves into the water. You liked this job a lot less, however—it was easier to see all the people staring at you, feel their eyes on you as you worked. 

Chip. Crack. Chop. Chuff. The sounds were like clockwork after a while, and the minutes they measured seemed to stretch like days. You forced yourself to remember why you chose to do this: you are American. England went too far. The jig was up. 

A headache, a backache, an earache, an arm ache; your whole body was on fire as the stars came out over the scene at the dock. You can barely recall what happened when the dumping was over. Someone called you to the deck of the ship, and you tidied it all up. “Nice and pretty now,” the man had said.

As you were walking back to the Loring’s house in silence, your heart wouldn’t stop thumping. You didn’t get arrested and you didn’t die, and you helped make a point: Americans stand up for themselves. Your grandfather always said, “Injustice is an opportunity for action.” Those words never really sank in till that night at the harbor.

Tea Party, they call it. You call it foolishness, even now, years later. You sit on your porch every night, smoke your pipe, and think. You think about the wars you’ve fought, about their causes, about what happened, and what might’ve been different. Your wife often remarks on your silence, but there’s no proper way to discuss it. Nobody understands. Sometimes, you think, what’s necessary isn’t always nice. It’s never simple.

God, you pray, what’s to become of it all? Was throwing tea in the harbor the answer? Your rocking chair creaks as the same December stars wink and blink the way they did when you cracked and chuffed the boxes and tea leaves. You sigh. 

What happened, happened. Nothing you could do now. It was a good thing in the end, for your country is free. You pray it remains that way.

Injustice is an opportunity for action, after all, and from what you can see, Americans are a people of action. At least you hope. Your days for action are over.

Your granddaughter calls you from inside and you suck in your gut, heaving yourself out of the chair. Once again, you have to leave your thoughts on the porch.

Marie Jeanette
Author and Columnist