The deep-seeded sense of home becomes so much more intense when disaster strikes upon it.
I'm not here to say anything that you haven't already heard on the new 1,000 times, but I thought I'd share a few thoughts on what Mondays happenings meant to me. I found out about the bombings while I was at work. I got a text from my mother-in-law asking if I had heard, and my brain immediately went to all of the people I know who have run the marathon in the past, might be running it this year, or work/live in that area. I texted my mom and a few friends to get an update about some people I was concerned about, and was reassured that they were fine, and some were even helping in the efforts to reunite people with their families. After the initial ingestion of this information, I decided to hop online. Bad idea.
It probably would have been better for me to look into the details after I was out of work, but of course the curiosity, the worry and the fear take over and we go into full-on stalking mode. Every website was showing more and more graphic photos as my search continued. Dismembered marathon fans. Blood on Boylston Street. Tear-streaked faces and looks of peril. Smoke and flames in the same frame as the John Hancock building. I felt the emotions welling up inside me (and the frustration that my co-workers barely seemed phased), so I decided that I better hold off on continued stalking until after work.
I navigated the rest of my shift trying to put what I had seen and read out of my mind. No one at the gym even mentioned the bombings. It was as if it didn't happen. Just 300 miles south and everyone is so disconnected. Maybe they hadn't heard. Maybe they didn't care. After all, it didn't happen in their city.
When my shift was over, I turned on NPR on the ride home. Some reporters commented on the story and I soaked up more details, biting my lip and squinting back the tears. Callers chimed in and gave their ridiculously asinine opinions (like that this is Obama's fault somehow?), but then they played the tape. Audio footage on location of when the bombs went off. The first one sounded and there was little response - some screams, mostly murmurs of confusion - but ten seconds later the second one sounded and the devastation was evident. The horrific screams. I can't even find the words to describe what it sounded like. There was something uniquely powerful in listening to it as opposed to seeing it. I was no longer biting my lip in a futile attempt to hold tears in. One hand on the wheel and one hand covering my mouth, I was in utter shock and sobbing at the sounds I heard. My city. This is happening in my city.
When I got home, Will noticed my red eyes and blotchy tear-stained face. "What's up?!" he asked very concerned. I felt silly explaining that I was weeping and mourning for an event that I wasn't even present for. None of my loved ones were hurt, I don't live in Massachusetts anymore, but for some reason it felt personal. Will was sad with me and for me, but it wasn't the same for him. When he was falling asleep and I was still crying in bed he said, "Sweetie, I'm sorry your city was attacked." Because honestly, as weird as it sounds, that's why I was so upset. Hearing "bombing" in the same sentence as "Boston" is too startling. Obviously what happened on September 11th doesn't even compare, but that wasn't personal to me. It affected me on a small scale as a young American, but I was in the 7th grade for crying out loud and I had never even been to New York City at the time. I can only imagine how New Yorkers felt on that day. I can only begin to truly empathize with them after Monday's events in Boston, and it's on such a smaller scale. I continued to read the news and cried myself to sleep Monday night.
Bostonians are a strong bunch. Obama said, "Boston is a tough and resilient town, so are its people." Those words warmed my heart. I also saw someone write on Facebook about how New Englanders are usually seen as cold, rude, somewhat snobby people, but we rise to the occasion when we need to. First responders everywhere, people reuniting other with their families, Bostonians eagerly searching for ways to help and running to the hospitals to give blood. We are still people, even if we lack a certain southern charm and warmth sometimes.
This is my favorite image floating around the web these days:
Those are my homeboys right there. Time to listen to some Dropkick Murphy's and just feel badass.
Last night at work, a few people asked me about it and if my friends and family were okay. I think it's because I was wearing my Red Sox hat. I think solely because of my hat, people asked me if I was from Boston, and extended their condolences. It was nice to have it recognized. I still have a general quiet and somber demeanor when thinking and talking about it, but at least I can talk about it now. I'll talk about how my city is strong and that this doesn't change a thing. We are who we are, regardless of what some idiot or group of idiots tries to do to us.
But through this I've learned just how much this place means to me, and I'm reminded that there is good in the world when we see how a community (or a country) responds to such terror. I love Boston, and love the love our country is showering on Boston. Prayers for everyone who was actually injured or affected on a more personal level. I'm proud of everyone.
These are my people. Thanks, Stephen Colbert :)