Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Speechless, but not without words. Boston.

Let's start with a fact:

What happened in Boston yesterday, April 15, 2013, was nothing short of tragic.

The rest of this entry is an opinion, my opinion, so feel free to take it and feel free to leave it....

I have never felt the way I did yesterday when I heard about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. I don't believe in comparing one tragedy to another, but I can assure you, this feeling was unique.

Boston was my home for the past four years. It was supposed to be my home this year. It shaped me in more ways than I can ever conceive, turning me into who I am today. I made friends, had relationships, laughed, cried, celebrated, learned, and experienced in that city, and for that I'll never be able to thank the Bean enough. I'll always consider Boston "my town", whether she'll have me or not.

So yesterday I was scared. Scared for the obvious reasons, yes. Scared that my friends were hurt or worse. Scared that there was more chaos waiting to unfold. Scared that no one could be safe in this world. But more importantly, and perhaps this is a tad selfish but I can't leave this, I was scared to lose a memory.

Marathon Monday, Patriot's Day, the greatest day in Boston, the greatest day to be a Bostonian. I had always made a point to be down at the finish line on that Monday. It didn't matter how steep the hangover was or how much studying needed to be done, this was a day that I never missed. Nothing like thousands of spandex clad, visor-sporting, Aasics-rocking ultra milers to turn a mature twenty-something into a wide-eyed 10 year-old. I would cheer at random strangers, promising myself that someday I would be on the other side of that fence panting down Boylston Street as the lactic acid started to build in my legs, my finish line in sight.

This particular day, my friends were less than a block away from the finish when tragedy struck. Thankfully, as Bostonians tend to do, they were in a bar enjoying a celebratory pint. Still, they felt the blast, saw the blood, choked on the smoke. And I can't help but think that if I had been there, that that pint would have been overpowered by the boyish wonder that only the Boston Marathon can produce. I would have wandered down toward the finish line, cheering with thousands of others as runners crossed the yellow line into immortality. I would have been in good company too—smiles, high-fives, cowbells, and flags from around the world—on the most joyous 400-yard stretch of asphalt in the world. That's exactly what hundreds were doing when their lives were altered by senseless violence.

But I never made it down there. I heard the news from a bedroom in Seattle, thousands of miles from my city, thousands of miles from my friends. I have never felt so far away. I wanted to pretend it wasn't real, but even the distance couldn't convince me of that. I can't blame anyone for this, but Seattle didn't seem to react to the news the way I did, making me feel even more helpless, more unable to reach out to the people I loved and cared for. I still tried of course, texting anyone I could just to make sure that I could get some sort of pulse from the other side. I was lucky to get responses, "I'm safe", "I'm ok".

But I wasn't ok, and I knew they weren't either. We had lost something, we had lost the day, our day. Last year I sat on a rooftop on Newbury Street, barbecuing with close friends, the mid-afternoon sun reflecting off the Prudential Center, and the roar of the crowd still audible one street over. It was one of those moments where you think, "life can't get better than this," and honestly I don't know if it could have. That should be my memory of the Boston Marathon. But I'm scared it won't be, scared that Monday's senseless violence will forever taint what once was a treasured memory of a special day in a special city. I'm scared that I crossed a different line than the yellow finishing stripe on Boylston Street, a line much harder to return from. At this point I don't know, but I really hope I'm wrong, I really do.


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