I have to admit that I did not know that yesterday was the Boston Marathon. I know, right? How could I have forgotten? When I saw the first post on facebook about the explosion, I just couldn’t believe it. It was incomprehensible. I sat staring at my monitor for a minute before it sunk in. I vaguely remember saying to my grandmother, who was in the living room with me, that there was an explosion at the Boston Marathon and that I was going to put on CNN–for some reason I didn’t think that it would be on the regular channels. The moment I put on the news was when it hit me. Staring at the television, I realized that I knew the exact spot where the bombs went off–it was Copley Square. I could see the main branch of the Boston Public Library, to which I still owe a copy of Brenda Joyce’s Deadly Affair (sorry, BPL, but Sandy took that book from me, so you’ll never be getting that book back), and the CVS where I bought the cute Christmas balls that I put on my tree every year. Boston was MY city–even if I had only lived there for slightly less than 2 years–and it was under attack. Someone had taken what was normally such a fun event and turned it into a tragedy. Over the past decade and a half, we have seen so much devastation. First, there was Oklahoma City, which granted I barely remember since I was only 7 when it happened. Then, there was Columbine. This I remember much more clearly because I was a little older–just barely 12–and I was around the television much more. There is that one image of a student dangling from a window, blood smearing the wall from where his hand touched it, which will always remain etched in my memory. I remember thinking that these were people barely older than me and they were dead. I just couldn’t understand it. After that, of course, came 9/11. I was just shy of 15 when the Towers fell, white smoke filling the city, visible even from my house in Queens. There is nothing about that day that I will ever forget–not even the clothes I wore or the game we played in gym class before the world came tumbling down around me. Next, was Virginia Tech–6 years ago today. That one hit close to home; I was in college at the time and the people that died were my age. No one is supposed to die at 20. Not in this country. But they did. And they do. Not long after that–only a few months later–was the London Bombings on 7/7/07. This wasn’t as close to home as the others, both literally and figuratively. I didn’t know anyone in London, so it only affected me insomuch as extra security on the subway going into Manhattan. Then, came Aurora and the Sikh Temple shootings. Then came Sandy Hook. No one was safe–not even 6 year old kids, sitting at their desks in school.
Even after all of this, there was still something in me–in all of us, really–that can be shocked and appalled at what happened yesterday, which despite having only lived there for two years, hit much too close to home. You see, I knew someone who was supposed to be running the marathon. We weren’t particularly close, only knowing each other peripherally–she was a Ph. D student and I was an M.S. student. We saw each other at department get togethers and I even went to her Halloween Party in 2010, but we weren’t great friends. That didn’t matter, though. I knew she was going to be at the marathon and until I saw a status update on facebook I worried that she might have been one of the injured–at that point it wasn’t clear whether or not anyone had been killed in the blast.
Added to that was the fact that I have such fond memories of that part of Boston. Those were streets that I knew well, and seeing them littered with bleeding bodies horrified me in a way that I did not know was possible. Even now, over 24 hours later, I am still very much in shock. I have been glued to my television and to facebook and twitter, hoping to learn something new from the various news outlets. With each passing moment, however, I grow stronger in my belief that this monster will be caught and brought to justice. And, I grow stronger in the belief that Boston will come back better than ever. It will be changed, but it will not falter. If there is one thing about Boston and about Bostonians it is that they don’t let anything keep them down. Just ask Red Sox Fans.