Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Proud

Today, I went for a run.

I left my office around lunchtime and ran to Vassar Street. As I passed, I weaved between a few people to touch the benches marking the memorial for slain MIT police officer Sean Collier, and a few minutes later I was standing in front of the MIT police station and shared a moment of silence with a number of officers and other people from the MIT community.

From there, I cut over to Memorial Drive, not far from the Shell station where the Tsarnaev brothers let the owner of the carjacked Mercedes go free. I crossed the Mass Ave bridge and turned left on Commonwealth. Instead of making the right on Hereford I continued down Comm and thought about the 5000+ runners who were forced to walk down that long street, cold, tired and scared. I turned right on Berkeley and stood right next to where I was last Monday afternoon when I heard explosions, and rested my hands on the barricade set up around the memorial for Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu. Like so many people who have visited the site over the past week, I stared at the ghostly Boylston Street crime scene which is still devoid of cars or people. I have no pictures to share because I'd much rather remember the street full of people cheering.

After taking it all in, I turned in the other direction and continued running down Boylston in the middle of the road (attracting lots of attention wearing a yellow 2013 Boston Marathon shirt), through the Public Garden, up Charles Street, and across the Longfellow Bridge back into Cambridge. At 2:50pm this afternoon, I shared another moment of silence with the entire city.

The idea that the events of the past week were "close to home" for me is an understatement. I was three blocks away from the explosions. A few days later, I found out that Sydney Corcoran, the girl who was pictured in an iconic photo on the front pages of the Boston Globe and the New York Times on Tuesday, is the niece of a fellow DFMC runner. Sydney was at the finish line with her mother, Celeste, who lost both legs. Please support their recovery fund.

Sean Collier lived in Somerville. Tamerlan Tsarnaev's apartment is a 10-minute walk from my home. On Friday, my town wasn't on the list of those bordering Watertown for which Governor Patrick issued a "shelter in place" request, but the City of Somerville did call its residents to request that we, too, adhere to the lockdown order. My eyes were glued to the news from 6am until 9pm, waiting anxiously for news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been apprehended.

The past week has been filled with extreme sadness and anxiety, but also pride and amazement. In my last post, I spoke of what makes Patriots Day in Boston so great, and somehow felt the same sense of collective perseverance, celebration and love since that day. Everyone rallied around victims, their families, first responders, city officials, law enforcement, as well as the running community. Nobody summed it up better than David Ortiz when he exclaimed "This is our f*cking city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong." Not even the FCC could deny Big Papi's emotional response.

I fear that if I try to further elaborate on these feelings, it would sound clich├ęd and perhaps melodramatic to some, so I'll just say: I love Boston.

Sure, there were idiots out there like Arkansas State Rep Nate Bell taking the opportunity to tweet pro-NRA rhetoric, but for the most part I felt like the nation was behind Boston. Nothing breaks down party lines quite like a natural disaster or terrorist attack-- and hey, the Yankees played Sweet Caroline and the Chicago Tribune's sports page paid tribute to Boston. It's just a shame that the conclusion of this chapter will eventually serve to add fuel to the fire on topics like gun control, capitol punishment, and immigration-- but not for, say, civil rights and education, despite the ignorant attacks on Muslims and suggestions that we should nuke the Czech Republic (failed geography, did we?).

It will take me, and the rest of Boston, some time to recover from the Marathon. I'm still sad. I feel pity for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but am happy he is being removed from society. I don't want to hear about his trial, and I refuse to read any commentary on how the City of Boston could have better handled the situation. I do care about what happens to the victims and their families, and look forward to hearing about the stories of their triumphs. I am motivated to harness feelings of compassion for other people, in the hopes that my actions can make a difference for someone else. Holding my medal has brought smiles to the people I've shown it to, and their sense of awe in my accomplishment has started to make me feel good about running in the 2013 Boston Marathon. I'm also excited about my next race (Massachusetts Reach-the-Beach Relay, next month), and am planning to enter the lottery for the 2013 New York City Marathon.

In finishing up what will be my last planned post on this blog, I'm left thinking about my Grandpa Dave. I can certainly imagine him making some insightful comments about the events of the past week. But I also know that he wouldn't let his feelings about terrorism cloud his love of the world around him. If he had been here this past week, he would have been amazed to hear how much the 2013 DFMC team raised (>$4M). I can hear him talking about the amazing spectacle of the Boston Marathon, how everyone in this beautiful city has come together for 117 years to celebrate it. And after I finished the race, he would have grabbed my shoulder and said, "Way to go, guy!"

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said. Thank you, Jeff.

    Happy running, and I'm looking forward to cheering you on at your next race!