I never intended to write anything deep and serious on my blog, but the event yesterday really put things into perspective for me.
Yesterday, my eyewitness of this tragedy wasn’t of the immediate carnage that happened on Boylston, but this is the way I experienced it.
I was eating lunch at the time and was 3 blocks away from the blast, but oddly didn’t hear or feel a bomb go off. I didn’t witness a plume of smoke or see fleeing people. I got a few text messages at lunch asking: “where are you” and if “I was ok” and “what the F’ was going on down there?” I wasn’t sure what was going on and after those first texts I became confused and tried to find some answers. I briefly found a few articles on possible explosions, but soon after, I wasn’t able to get cell service. I had full bars on my phone and neither my girlfriend nor I could connect to a call, text, or get web access. It looked like a few others in the restaurant couldn’t do the same. I knew then something might be serious and immediately recalled trying calling home to New Jersey and NYC on 9/11 back in 2001, when there was no way of getting through, and that is exactly what happened here. At this time I still didn’t know of extent of the damage done, or the serious nature which was going on just a few hundred yards away. We were soon asked to leave the restaurant in a calm manner and that the cops were vacating the area. Nobody was charged their meals and we all walked out on Newbury Street to see confused but highly inquisitive people . My block had a few people that looked distraught, but unknowingly a few blocks away, people were fleeing, crying and injured, some gravely.
My girlfriend and I decided to get out of the area and go back to our place in Brookline which is around marathon mile 24 and 2 blocks from the course. We took the long route home since I didn’t want to walk near the Comm ave. or Beacon Street route. I didn’t even want to walk close to Fenway park because, well, I didn’t know what the “terrorists” had in store for Boston landmarks. Streets were gridlocked, cops on every corner and pedestrians walking aimlessly holding their cell phones searching for reception and looking for answers. The terrible thing is that on our route home, we saw all the ambulances come into the city, and we saw most of the ambulances leave the city as they went to the Longwood area hospitals. It was obvious that there were far more injuries than the 22 that I originally saw on the news.
The transition of the walk home was bizarre. We went from an evacuation, then through traffic and confusion, then through all the Fenway drinkers on Boylston Street, then back to the active runners on Beacon Street at Audubon circle. That was a difficult thing to see coming back. At that time, Audubon circle was the new marathon finish line. A few spectators were there, cheering people on, wanting to be supportive that this was the end of their journey. This intersection was also the end to months of training and defined the runners disappointment of not being able to go the last 2 miles. Runners weren’t looking for claps and cheers, some were crying and most had empty looks in their faces. Those runners, like me, didn’t really know what happened 2 miles ahead of them, but they were aware that someone destroyed an event, destroyed dreams and ruined a feeling they so hoped to achieve. I didn’t clap, I didn’t cheer, because frankly, I don’t think they wanted to hear it. That experience (although secondary to the injuries and lives lost at the real finish line) was terrible to see.
Like most of you, the first thing I did when i walked into the door was to become glued to my TV and my computer. I finally posted something to Facebook telling people I was ok ,and in no time, it had 30 likes and countless comments. My girlfriends friend also came over because she had nowhere to go. She manages a store directly across from the blast and she and her staff ran away from the scene expecting more tragedy and chaos. She was by far more shook up than us and we were happy to have her over. Hearing her experience about the sound and the turmoil was shocking and I can’t even imagine how it was for people who just across the street. We all passed most of the first hour back finally making calls to loved ones who had checked in.
Like everyone else, I was absolutely inundated with real time video and countless photos. I saw stories of heroes, pictures of victims and videos of disaster on the web. Some images rocked me to the core and if you saw it, you know which one I’m probably talking about. . During all the media coverage I was going through photos on my iphone and I noticed I had taken a photo of this tent. And this is what sparked me to write something on my blog.
This is the medical tent that houses many runners who finish the marathon that need attention for cramps, dehydration and injury. I took this last Friday and meant to post this picture on my facebook page on with a rant. I was going to say something in relation to how this screws up Boston and how terribly it clogs up traffic for about 4 days in Back Bay and the South End. For the past 6 years of owning a car in Boston, this tent has always gotten in my way. For some reason I forgot about it and never posted my online tantrum about being inconvenienced.
When I saw this photo, I was shocked to see it and was reminded of my thoughts surrounding this tent and I was so disappointed with myself and was relieved for not posting something so superficial. I thought this days before the marathon, and who knew that yesterday would happen. Minutes before seeing my photo, I had just read a story online about this tent, and how it turned into the first response shelter for blast victims and how it was essentially transformed into a trauma tent for people who lost limbs and housed the dead. This is where it all happened. The block that should have delivered sustenance and aid to accomplished athletes, now was the epicenter of a war zone. As a result of seeing my photo and that story, a different reality set in and I knew that this city would be changed from years to come.
Boston won’t be the same for a while and our/my perspective isn’t the same either. Some witnessed carnage that only some in war may have only seen, while others feel scared and vulnerable. Others want revenge, but I want justice, and have faith in all those who make this country and city great. I know we are resilient city and we will bounce back from this terrrible tragedy more united and stronger. I look forward to next years marathon, but I know it won’t be the same. There will be a somber overtone and the finish line will bring back memories, and for many, too traumatic to return. Next year when I see this tent go up I will remember those who were lost, those who were injured and the heroes that jumped into action. I look forward to seeing the tent again and will gladly be stuck in several blocks in gridlock traffic just to know my city has bounced back. I work next door and walk by the bomb sites almost everyday and sometimes multiple times a day. I just can’t believe those spots will soon have a memorial remembering those who were lost.
Compromise More, Complain Less, Love Harder and May Justice Be Served
HERE’S TO BOSTON