It’s 3am on Thursday, April 18th, 3 days and several hours after two bombs exploded on Boylston St during the Boston Marathon. Two bombs… seems like nothing compared to some places in the world, where events like this happen on a weekly or even daily basis. It doesn’t make it any less terrifying, but it’s good to put things like this into perspective.
About a week ago, I was walking down Boylston with a coworker of mine. We walked down the sidewalk next to the Boston Public Library, where they were setting up the stands by the finish line. I remember expressing some level of disdain for the impending chaos of crowds and blocked off streets. He said “No way, Marathon Monday is the best day in Boston.” He was born and raised right in the Back Bay and his father ran in the Marathon for several years. He explained that the thing that’s so wonderful about the Marathon is that anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. If you train your body right, you can run the Marathon and when you run, thousands of people will come to cheer you on. What a beautiful thing that is. His obvious love for the day, and for Boston, really made me rethink my frustration over a few inconvenient hours. Only a few days later, two handmade improvised explosive devices were detonated only feet from where we had our talk. Chaos… crowds… blocked off streets. They all happened. Just not in the way they were supposed to.
Moments after it happened I was getting calls from friends and relatives asking me if I was okay. My office in downtown Boston was open, but I had chosen to work from home that day. After assuring that all my coworkers were safe, I spent the next few hours focused on updating our social media, being sure that I was using our network and community to help spread the word about relief efforts. I had to resist the urge to share how I truly felt. I had to resist the urge to jump to conclusions. I had to turn off NPR and focus on finding links to information that would assist people in locating their loved ones and finding places to stay.
The following day, despite my overwhelming desire to hide up in the hills of Somerville, I went to work, passing many policemen and armed guards along my way. Helicopters circled over Dewey Square. Echos of 9/11 threatened my resolve. At work, we’ve been trying to find spaces for some of the displaced Boylston St businesses. Being a coworking space, that’s what we do best. It’s been hard to focus. It’s been hard to sleep. I’m up right now at 3:45am because sleep continues to either bring me nightmares or elude me completely. Yesterday, when false reports came in about finding a suspect and then were promptly rescinded, I felt an intense wave of relief followed by a deep, aching despair. It stuck with me for hours, even as I walked through the perfect warm spring evening. I walked from the futuristic cement and metal structures of Kendall, through the brick sidewalks of Cambridge lined with blossoming trees and flowers, to my little apartment up on Spring Hill. I flung myself on my bed and cried… for those with lost loved ones… for those with lost limbs… for those without comfort or safety, living in fear… I cried for my city.
My family has lived in this area for over 400 years. We are Mayflower descendants. Our relatives landed in Plymouth and decided that was that. They never really branched out too far from New England. My grandparents lived, were educated, and worked in Boston. We are a hearty bunch, who live long years, despite our bad teeth. Through the muck and mire, through disease and starvation, through depressions and revolutions, we have survived. Boston has survived massacres, invasions, fires, rivers of blood and molasses running through our twisted cow path streets. We have shown strength and courage in the face of hate and fear during these times and only days ago, when instead of running away from the explosions, the people of Boston ran toward them to aid those in desperate need.
Two bombs… they broke up families… they admittedly broke my heart.. but it seems like nothing compared to what we’ve been through. They will not break Boston, but more importantly, they will not break the human spirit, which aspires to courage, goodness and love.