Every time a friend posted an "I'm okay" Facebook status, I felt a punch in the chest. "Thank God," I would think, "they're safe." It's funny how, even those of us with shaky faith and little or no religion still call out to a higher power like that. It is comforting, reaching out to something bigger than oneself I guess. I don't even know which friends still call Boston home, as many of us have scattered across the globe since graduating Emerson College in 2010. I felt guilty, for not keeping in touch, for not knowing who was where, but the same relief washed over me every time. "Thank God they're safe."
That night, my boyfriend had to pry my cellphone away from me as tears streamed down my cheeks. I was watching the same video of the explosion, over and over. Seeing the too familiar Copley erupt into chaos. Seeing the people running from the blast, running TO the blast, stumbling and running and trying to help. I saw the pictures of the wounded and bloody and while I felt it was disrespectful for those pictures to even be posted, I could not look away. I felt connected to it all--this was MY city. MY city in such chaos, in such pain. The city I called home for four years, the city that's always called my name to return, someday. I couldn't handle it. If you were to walk just one block up Boylston you would be able to see my alma mater. No doubt current Emerson students were there, taking notes, taking video, covering the Marathon for some journalism class--Emerson's big draw is the excellent experience you get for every major--and seven students were injured in the blast. These were my people, my Bostonians, my Emersonians, how could someone do this to them?! My boyfriend put my phone on the other side of the room and held me until I calmed down. When the tears stopped we put on Futurama and promised not to look at the coverage until the next day.
I have been refreshing news sources ever since. I want those responsible caught. I want the horror to be over.
I remember, during my college years, I would get scheduled to work on the two biggest "Boston Holidays"--St. Patrick's Day and Marathon Monday. I have always wanted to return to Boston to see it now, as an adult, but my current job doesn't give me the day off. Sometimes I'd make it to the end of the festivities, if I had an early shift at the restaurant. Marathon Monday was always such a fun event, so full of joy and happiness. People achieving an incredible goal while the citizens of Boston, friends and family, and visitors all cheered them on. To think all of that positive energy and encouragement and accomplishment was all put into danger is more than heartbreaking.
You can say a lot of things about Boston, as you can with any city, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. It IS a strong city. You only need to hear the countless stories of the citizens of Boston who helped the victims after the attack. From those who ran into the blaze to save strangers to those who simply offered their couch or guest room to displaced runners--Boston has heart. A huge one. We will move on, we will grow ever stronger, and we will remember.
The best way to help? Don't be afraid. Don't let this stop you from enjoying everything this city has to offer. Take a day trip to a Red Sox game, follow the Freedom Trail, buy things you don't need at Quincy Market, see an Emerson Stage show, eat at a ritzy cafe on Newbury Street, visit the ICA or the MFA and enjoy the amazing art, people watch in the Boston Common, take a Swan ride in the Garden, see Shear Madness or Blue Man Group, have a beer at Cheers or Boston Beer Works, get a cannoli at Mike's Pastry, see if Emerson will let you into the library to view the pointless Will and Grace set... or just get off the bus and walk and explore. Don't let the events of Marathon Monday stop you. Come discover how amazing Boston really is.
Some pictures of my favorite Boston memories, from then and now.
|Red Sox game with friends|
|Sitting on the Charles, my favorite place to be|
|At the harbor|
|Random cow statu first day of college|
|The first friends I made in college|
|Jellyfish at the Boston Aquarium|
|Christmas at Quincy Market|
|Springtime in the Common|
|On the Charles, again|
|Going away party when I left Bertucci's (the one under the Citgo sign)|
|Freshman year of college|
|Freshman year fashion competition|
|Roommates at my first apartment in the city|
|Skyline over Fenway|
|Sox game with the boyfriend|