boston marathon bombings
  • Boston : After

    (originally published on April 21, 2013)


    I still haven't processed what took place here on Friday. I've never been so anxious, so nervous, so scared. Only other Bostonians will really understand what it was like. To see the streets of my ordinary life corrupted by enormous atrocities, for the second time that week. The corner where the MIT cop died is the same place where I'd get pasta once a week when I worked there. Watertown -- a quieter place, with real houses, lots of families, and young couples -- is a town where I've lived twice in my life. We heard our friends report in one by one that their homes had been searched by SWAT teams. The story of one passing his young kids over the fence he had just climbed in his backyard after the cops ordered their family to flee in the dark of the night while the firefight with the bombers took place outside their home. Learning that that kid went to school a block from where I work -- two of our friends work at that school. Boston is nothing if not connected, the circles get closer and closer the longer you live here.

    As it looked like this nightmare was going to come to an end, things started to shift back toward normal. The Mr. and I were loving the locals being interviewed on the news -- that atrocious accent and unselfconscious, agressive way of speaking. (I hope you all got to see and hear some of that!) And the interview with the guy who left his house to get some pizza and ended up near the final gunfire exchange. Because needing a pizza after being barricaded in your home for hours is something we can all understand. And those stories we heard earlier in the day were now being told with comedic brilliance. In that Boston way. And the overwhelming relief when the kid was caught.


    The next day, like many Bostonians, we were drawn towards Boylston Street. As we hit the city streets, normalcy seemed within our grasp. The Mr. said to me, "That didn't take long," after I grumbled under my breath at the slow walkers on Charles Street. "Two blocks!"


    We walked through the Public Garden, the ducks decked out in spring hats and Marathon numbers, the swan boats back in the lagoon, the tulips just about to bloom.


    And then we reached the memorial site on Boylston Street. It looked like it did the day the bombs went off, minus the smoke, minus the fleeing crowds, minus the people holding arteries of the injured in their bare hands. In my mind I could see the bombs go off, I could hear the crowds, I could see the panic. And it hit me in the most overwhelming of ways. I began to weep. Like many people there.


    The comfort dogs who visited the victims in the hospitals, Liberty and Independence, were there. Everyone wanted a little time with them. 


    Shaken and slightly trembling, we decided a stiff drink was in order so we turned around and headed down Boylston Street to the Four Seasons. While we waited for the light to change so we could cross the street, we met a couple with a child. They were looking for the closest ATM. We learned they were from Northern California and they had come to watch the marathon. They had been watching it when the bombs went off. One of the "people in their party" had been injured. Before we parted, they asked if the train from Arlington station would take them to Children's Hospital. I felt nauseous and sick.


    What happened next will be one of the things I remember most about this day after. We bellied up to the Four Seasons bar and ordered some drinks from Jimmy, who may very well be the best bartender in all the city. A woman and her husband came in and sat next to us. She chatted with Jimmy, claiming martinis make her sleepy as she continued to peruse the cocktail menu. "Oh, screw it!" she exclaimed. "Give me a martini!" We all laughed and continued to laugh over the course of the next hour. Grateful to be on the other side of the nightmare.

  • A few days later ...

    (originally published on April 18, 2013)

    The Mr. and I got married at Old South Meeting House where, in 1773, rebels gathered right before they stormed towards the harbor for what would become known as the Boston Tea Party. It is a place of defiance and ultimately independence. We're both "I'm doing it my way" kind of people and love the symbolic nature of our chosen location, a sort of "yep, we're getting married but we're not doing this the way you all think we should." And I wore bright green shoes. That I made sure everyone could see under my nontraditional tea-length dress.


    Defiant. Independent. That's who we are. And that is what this city is. We are surrounded by reminders of the scrappiest of scrappy revolutionaries who walked these streets before us. It's why we laugh knowingly at that scene in The Town when Coughlin has been shot, heavily bleeding, and is clearly out of options. Jon Hamm yells out, "Coughlin, throw down your weapon." And he responds, "Fuck you!" with what may be one of the best approximations of the local accent that takes almost two decades of living here to learn how to love. Us Bostonians walk around with a little "fuck you" in our hearts all the time.

    On Friday, the Mr. and I are going on our usual date night. To a restaurant on the perimeter of the crime scene, one block from the first explosion. And when they reopen Boylston Street, we'll go pay our respects and reclaim our rightful place on that street. Alongside our fellow Bostonians. Scrappy. Defiant. I may even wear some green shoes. 

  • My City

    (originally published on April 16, 2013)


    My city. My home. My world.

    As I watched the coverage yesterday, I knew I had been changed. Just not then. That happened long before yesterday. 9/11 altered my neural pathways for life. And as I sunk deeper and deeper into stillness and into silence, some of the horrific images seared into my brain, the thought that the Mr. had been in the danger zone just a mere 30 minutes prior to the explosions, I knew what was in store for me. The signs were there. The word "motherfucker" spewing from my mouth at an accelerated pace. Scouring the news obsessively for information. Refreshing my Facebook and Twitter feeds every three seconds. Not talking. That dazed, hazy film settling over everything. Anger. Distraction. Fear.

    This morning I finally cried. And couldn't stop. One particular image of a man horribly injured kept flashing through my mind. And I wondered how he was, if he made it, and if he did, what he would be going through right now, tomorrow, next week, next year. What all of those injured and their families would be going through. All those who were there and saw the carnage. The trauma.

    We live smack dab between Mass General Hospital and the state police barracks. The sirens did not stop for four hours yesterday. This morning, they've continued. The sound of urgency and danger still rings in the air.

    At one point late yesterday, the Mr. looked at me and said quietly, "That was a close one." As he does on most Marathon Mondays, he was watching the Marathon at a local bar with his friends. It's a block from the first blast site. He left at 2:15. The bomb went off at 2:50.

    One block and 30 minutes. My world.