Monday, April 15, 2013

"Down by the river, Down by the banks of the River Charles"*

Newbury and Berkeley streets
From 1996 until 2012, I lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and I still have a lot of friends who live and work in town and its neighborhoods. So today's news of the explosions at the Boston Marathon was very personal to me. This morning, my Facebook newsfeed was full of friends and friends of friends running in the marathon or just going to watch the running of the marathon. (When my alarm went off this morning, I thought to myself that this is the first time in a dozen years that I had to work on Marathon Monday. Blerg.) Marathon Monday is a day for barbeques, beers, and cheering on crazy people who run 26.2 miles like they are there to help Paul Revere spread the word about the Redcoats coming. They run for causes and for themselves, and it is a happy, springtime thing that unites the people of Greater Boston.

Shortly before 3pm, I was in a meeting with someone about something rather routine when we were interrupted by a colleague who walked in to tell us that two explosions had just happened at the race. My response was: "Are you sure it wasn't a manhole cover?" because that happens, not infrequently, in Boston. But when he said that wasn't what CNN was reporting, I walked out of the meeting as quickly as I could without drawing attention to myself to get on a computer and find out what happened.

For a while, it was 9/11 all over again - the desperate search for information, the need to know what had happened - except this time, I had people I cared about personally who could have been hurt. Thank goodness for cell phones and Facebook. By 4:15pm, the last of my friends who were at the race checked in, no one was injured, and the nauseous feeling in my stomach started to settle down.

Of course, I am in no way calm about this, and part of me wishes I could be there to help, doing what, I don't know, but being there for my old city. It is saddening and frightening. And it makes me mad too. What do those runners ever do to anyone? They were celebrating the accomplishment of a difficult test of physical and mental endurance; they didn't deserve this and neither did the people there to cheer them on. All I can do is pray and hope. I pray for the police (especially PH, thinking of him), who put their lives on the line all the time to protect Bostonians; hopefully they can stop any further destruction and arrest the people responsible. And I also pray for all the medical personnel at the hospitals who are treating the people hurt in the explosions; they are among the very best in this country and I hope they can save the rest of the badly injured. I pray for the people of Boston, that they don't let this stop them from being "wicked awesome". (I don't think it will. Bostonians have been fighting back against their oppressors for nearly 240 years. They know how to handle this kind of stuff. Just ask those Redcoats...)

Oh, Boston, you're still my home and hopefully always will be.

*lyrics from Dirty Water by the Standells

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