(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.