Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Think I'll Go To Boston...


I don't want to spew anger. I don't want to wax poetic. I don't want to talk and talk and talk and say nothing at all. But I am angry. I am introspective. I am hurt. I am lost.

I lived in Boston for several years. Specifically in Malden, a suburb on the Orange Line. My family lives about 20 minutes outside the city. My stepsister is currently a student at Northeastern University. My stepdad works downtown.

Like so many, I saw the tweets first.  I had taken a break from work to work for a few minutes on the water currently seeping into my basement (5 straight days of a rain and a previous owner who did everything on the cheap will do that). I came back to my laptop and saw them. "Prayers to Boston."  "Why why why why???"

My heart dropped. Pulse crashed through my fingertips. Throat went dry.

I walked. Ran. Floated. To our back room. To our TV. It was still on CBS and Scott Pelley was showing the images over and over. Boylston Street. I love that street. I stopped at that Starbucks the morning after my wedding. I've walked past Marathon Sports hundreds of times.

I grabbed my phone and started sending out rapid-fire texts. "Are you OK? Were you there?" I am lucky. Everyone I love was safe. My mom works 20 minutes away, no worries. My stepdad was on his way out of town anyway. My stepsister had been in that exact location maybe a half hour earlier, but was now in Cambridge. Safe, but stranded. She would walk the 4 miles back to her apartment because the T shut down or had limited service. But they were Ok. Others weren't so lucky, and they are in my nightly prayers.

Even with my family safe, I am touched. I am numb. I am lost.


"But I love that dirty water... Oh, Boston, you're my home!"

Is it because I lived there? Weekends in Boston are great. I would take the T downtown and just wander. From Government Center to the North End. Up the Freedom Trail toward Boston Common, in to the Public Garden. Say "hey" to those Ducklings, forever skipping through the Garden. Up Newbury Street, over to Boylston. Feeling the sun, watching people, window shopping. I love that city. I would move back in a heartbeat.

Is it because they were running? Cheering for runners? You know I'm training for a half marathon. All I could think about was the joy and elation at the finish line. Runners, family, friends, complete strangers feel happiness at the finish. Joy to heartbreak in a split second. And again 30 seconds later.

Running to me is freeing. You strap on minimal equipment and out you go. You and the road. The fresh air. Each footstep reinforces your strength. Your will. Your determination.

These runners have dedicated thousands of miles to get here. Not just the miles they may have physically traveled, but the hundreds or thousands of miles their own feet carried them in their journey to Boston.

The crowd was there to share in this joy. To cheer on family, friends, even strangers. To watch the human spirit in front of and among them. The determination of the runners, 4 hours later. The carefree enjoyment of the crowd, out enjoying a city holiday. Patriot's Day. The Red Sox had finished hours ago. The elite runners had too. But Patriot's Day is a holiday. People roam the streets. Some going from bar to bar, some just hang out enjoying Boston's Spring kickoff. Kids are out of school. It's a party-like atmosphere, a day of fun.

A race isn't like a football game, a baseball game, anything in a stadium. It covers a long distance. It is open. The crowd comes and goes. The very thing that makes it enjoyable, that openness, the ability of the crowd to simply gather, to come and go as they please, that made it vulnerable.

All these things leave it such a mess in my mind.

Like so many others, I am comforted by the helpers. Comforted by all the people who ran toward danger, ran toward fear, reached out their hand and told someone, "You are OK. I am here, and I will help you." That is what makes America great. How we can come together. How good shines in the face of tragedy, again and again. How we support each other. How we are always determined. Sometimes the world seems overcome by hate, but there is always good chasing right after it. Standing up to it. And we must hold on to that good. We must never back down in the face of hate.

I went for a 5 mile run yesterday, and it truly felt different. I cherished it. I enjoyed simply looking around. I smiled when "Dirty Water" came on my iPod. I will run my half marathon on May 4 and I will cherish it. I will cherish the crowd. Our joy. Our determination. Our good. Our freedom.

I love that dirty water. Boston, I will run for you.

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