Today, once again, we were reminded about the type of world we live in. In a few short moments, we lost the feeling of safety on our city streets. We have also now lost of the last remaining escapes from reality, sporting events.
Over the past year we have lost a number of these escapes- movie theatres, malls, elementary schools, places of worship, and colleges. For so long, I knew that no matter how troubling this world became, I always knew that in this- at times- cold, cruel world I could always look forward to those Saturday's and Sunday's in the Fall, to the first week in April, to those 2 weeks in July and August every 4 years, to take my mind off of the "serious" affairs of the world. I always viewed it as my sanctuary. No matter how bad the outside world got, there was still a communal bond of taking in a game with complete strangers, some you became friends with during the game, others you didn't, but at the end of the day you felt safe. I still remember the Super Bowl immediately after 9/11. While the Patriots ended up winning that game, at the end of the day what really won out was the unbreakable will of the American people. We were able to escape from such tragic events only 5 months earlier, to come as a nation and escape from the problems of the world. Even if only for 4 hours, we always had that.
Before I get even further in to it, for those who have never been in Boston for Marathon Monday, I truly feel sorry for you. It is one of the best days that Boston has. The Red Sox, as they have for so many years, play an 11 AM game that is timed to empty out on Landsdowne to cheer on all the runners as they wind their way through the streets of Boston en route to Copley Square and the completion of one of the better races in America, if not the world. Combine that with a route that takes you through a few college neighborhoods, bars, and Boston's Irish heritage and well you've got cause for a party. The streets are festive, cheering on random runners/friends/family/strangers, and it takes on an unofficial Holiday like atmosphere. It truly is an awesome event and a must go for many- runners and spectators alike.
Now, I will let you know where I was exactly today when I got the news. I was in a lunch meeting discussing the finer points of accounting. I left my phone in my pocket, which is something I usually never do, and felt a constant vibrating in my pants. On reflection, I am happy that that's where it was, because I almost certainly would have darted out of that room to check on my dad who works in Boston. The feeling I got when you hear "explosions rock ENTER HOME CITY HERE] is on par with the feelings I got after I grasped the magnitude of 9/11. To remind you all, it sucks. You instantly forget about work, social commitments, or anything else you were supposed to do that day. You are transported home. I went to lunch with a co-worker and while I made it look like I was listening, my eyes and thoughts were laser focused on the giant TV screen behind him. I could not focus in any of the meetings I had the rest of the day. I was in a funk. My phone was (for lack of a better word) blowing up with the news. In no particular order, I reached out to Mike (yes, that same guy who so many moons ago joined me on our trips through the Ballparks), to Lanny who I had a feeling might run today (he didn't and was safe), to Dan and Gabby who had qualified to for the race, to my Dad who I had no idea where he was, to my mom, PJ and Katherine, and anyone else that I thought would be out near that race course. It's scary when you have no idea what is going on and are trying to contact those you know and love.
I'm guilty of not going home nearly as much as I should. Some of you may say I've lost touch with Boston after I moved out to California for school. That doesn't change the fact that those sidewalks stained now stained with blood, are the same sidewalks I walked up and down before Senior Prom. The same sidewalks I strolled down when researching for my history day project senior year. These events immediately transport you home and remind you that nothing will ever be the same. But, really what made it tough for me, was being so far away from home. From being far away from all those that I needed to be close to. The thought of the unknown in Boston scared the daylights out of me. We had no idea what was next. The similarities to 9/11 were uncanny. The size and the magnitude of what happened is obviously smaller, but the message is unequivocally the same. We lost our innocence. Again. Today.
The streets of Boston ran red with innocent blood today. Guilty only of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Guilty of doing nothing more than cheering on their family or friends or strangers to cross that finish line in the sign of ultimate athletic achievement. Those same streets that I have walked down so many times before, now became the epicenter of a war-zone. Military guard on the streets of Boston, SWAT Teams out in neighboring towns, the fear of the unknown. Those are the things that strike me about today. Today, the battle, what ever battle it is, hit us where it hurts. Sporting events and city streets. These 2 locations will never, ever be the same again. We seek out sporting competitions to take our minds off atrocities like these happening around the country and the world. We walk the streets as part of our every day lives. Now the safety, the serenity, the wonder of these locations have been removed from our collective conscious forever.
I'd be remiss not to mention the heroism and the concern I saw from everyone. From watching the first responders run to the aid of those caught in the blast zone, to the runners who continued on to Mass General to give blood, to the friends who reached out to me out of concern for my family and friends, I will never forget it. You learn a lot your friends and humanity when tragedy like this strikes. I wish that more positive events brought us closer together, but at the end of the day we play the cards we are dealt. To all those that reached out today, thank you. I love each and everyone of you.
I had always hoped a day like 9/11 would never again occur in my lifetime. I had always hoped that an event that has become all too routine in other parts of the world would never materialize on our soil. I knew that was too idealistic. What we have learned today is that no matter how great our country is, no matter how advanced our security is, no matter how safe we think we are, the next attack is out there waiting to happen. I won't ramble on politically about what this means. Because frankly, I don't care. What I do know is this: Justice will be served. We will grow stronger. We will persevere.