Friday, April 19, 2013
Unthinkable, really, what's been happening here.
Right now the local reporters are droning on as Air Force 1 lands at Logan, in preparation for today's memorial service. The news has not stopped since Monday, although I've done my best to drown it out: having Lil Girl over during her school vacation is a good distraction, and a good excuse to keep the tv off, but you still hear things: Rumors of arrests creep in when I check Facebook while she's playing Barbies in the other room; sirens go flying by in flocks, screaming that something is happening, but I don't want to know what; Dad calls from the airport with news of yet another lockdown due to suspicious packages.
Every local channel has it's own somber music, it's own strained, sad-faced, semi-stoked reporters, it's own repetitive non-informative crawl, blasting basically the same news since Monday at 2:50. They've all talked almost non-stop now for three days, showing the same, once shocking footage of blasts one and two, the helpers rushing in, the clouds of debris billowing out. We've heard - live - from every doctor about every non-specific patient and their horrific surgeries, their instant amputations, their 'luck' in that the on-site medical tent was so close, so that their injuries could be tended to so quickly. Reporters shout their non-sensical questions at these doctors at press conferences designed to comfort? us, I suppose, but that just end up making me feel more intrusive, more nauseous as I think about all these patients - all these people - have ahead of them now.
I don't really live in Boston - but I've lived in Boston adjacent cities my entire life: Cambridge, Somerville, Revere... basically moving around the Hub counter-clockwise since I was born. It's a beautiful city, with neighborhoods full of cobblestone streets and side-walks that the wheelchair user in me hates and the history buff in me admires; where a truck will double-park in the middle of a North End street to make deliveries, not caring that it completely shuts down the traffic, since there is only one lane possible in the narrow, non-sensical street; where I've never even made it to half the cultural offerings the city offers, but it's comforting just knowing that I could. It's not technically my home, but I claim it as mine - it's more than just knowing where the closest 5 Dunkin Donuts are, or that we don't really ever call it the 'subway', but that's part of it.
Boston isn't just a city, it's an attitude. Massholes are proud of being Massholes - we're a cynical, sarcastic lot, sure, but - as you've probably seen this week - tenderhearted too - Wicked isn't just our favorite adjective, it's how we self-identify. We think our sports teams are the best - even if we don't care about sports at all. We know our traffic is the worst - and laugh when other people complain about theirs. We know our hospitals rock - I think of all the doctors I see on a regular (weekly/monthly/all the damn time) basis, and all the hospitals I've been in that were just on the news this week. And how I know those emergency rooms, and the nurses who patrol the halls there, and how I hope they are doing alright. - And we know that being a center of learning - with a college on ever corner and a university everywhere you turn, brings optimism and hope and energy and enthusiasm into our cold, snowy hearts - even if it also brings pedestrians who think they are immune to getting hit by cars. It's a place that digs its roots into you, is all I can say.
I feel almost everything right now; so close to an edge that just appeared, and all of us are tiptoeing around it, trying to avoid falling in, because we won't know how to climb out.
I hold my breath watching live tv now - I guess I've been doing it for months, but I really just noticed how bad it is this week, with everything being live all the time. I have a distinct need for what's on to be over all ready, to know that it's ended with everyone safe and sound, to know I'm not going to be a witness to history again, today. Because I don't think I have it in me to witness much more.
And I'm so far removed from these things - luckily, none in my family has been harmed - although my brother was hoofing back to his car from the Sox game and heard the explosions on Monday, sent me bewildered texts as he got into his car and drove out as all the emergency vehicles swarmed in -; I'm certainly pretty safe from any terrorists here in my bed, I would think: But just the idea of One. More. Thing. Going. Wrong. Of Texas, and now shootouts & 'controlled explosions' on city streets; of a minor fender bender in front of my house (again) and the power going out, just when the city tells everybody to stay in in order to stay safe.
I know my armor is so thin in places that the slightest poke may cause me to deflate, implode, explode - I don't even know what. So I huddle, and I hide from the news (as much as possible, which is, in all actuality, very little), and I hope that there's nothing else, just for right now, just for this minute.
I want to hug everyone: people I know, people I've never met, everybody on the news who's as close to tears as I am and yet manages to tell their story. I want to build a fort, a cave, a bunker and have it swallow up all the people I love, so that I can know they are safe and close, and within reach at all times. Only my mom's insistence that it was not an option kept me from posting our couch on the #bostonhelpers website for somebody who needed it the other night - and that was just because we were supposed to have the kids and would be full up, no-room-at-our-inn.
In one of the ever-replaying scenes of the first bomb exploding that they keep playing on Channel 4, you can see, in front of the huge puff of smoke and dirt and debris that rises up in the aftermath of the bomb, a balloon caught up in the gust of it all. It gets swept along the edges of the cloud, higher and higher, over and over again. On Monday, if I could have, I would've rolled my way to Copley Square, to the Finish Line I've never seen in person before (nor had any interest in finding), and searched for the hand that had held that balloon's string.
It was all I could think of, once I saw it. Just that yellowish clump of balloons, floating up and up, again and again, following the blast. And knowing that somewhere below, in the chaos of fences and flags and blood and fear, there had been a child who'd been cheerfully tugging that balloon along behind him/her.
And now we know some names - of the three who didn't make it and the nearly 200 that were injured, but made it - and we know that they have long roads ahead of them, those that came through. Those that helped, those that saw, those that ran, those that heard: there's a lot that's different, all of the sudden, and that's pretty damn scary.
The flurry of text messages and emails and twitter feeds and facebook refreshing that happened immediately after the news broke, just so I could know as many of my people were as safe as they could be - and now today (because this post has taken me days to write) all over again, with whole cities on lockdown, and gunshots and suspects being killed and others being tracked and interviews of kids who, once upon a time, went to the same charter school with the one who's still running, but they don't know anything about the 'man' he is now, or how this could have happened. So back to all the social networks to make sure everyone is "safe" and hoping that soon 'safe' will be a word that means something again.
It's not a new world, really: it's just a new city. A new place for an old terror, and this time, it's my place. Our place. The idea that my doctor's appointment on Monday might be cancelled because they're rescheduling things due to today's city-wide lockdown? What is that, even? Who makes sense of that? I think about taking my niece on her first trip to the Swan Boats this summer, which is something I promised to do, even though I get sea sick looking at pictures of boats, and the idea that being out in the Common might not be safe? Does not compute.
It doesn't make sense, it's not going to make sense, and even when this is over, it won't be over. We know it. And we'll live with that. But I sure wish it was still Sunday, when my only thought about the marathon was that it would preempt all the shows the next day. I'm not sure this post makes as much sense as I would like it to, but I need to say something, if only to get it all out of my head.
I hope you are all safe, where you are, and that you stay that way.