I took my time on this one.
I'm not really sure how to approach this thing. I think it would be easier if I was further away from it and had some perspective.
By now most people know that two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon at 2:50pm on Monday. Rumors are flying about other devices being found along the route and nobody seems to have a handle on whether or not the JFK Library fire was connected or coincidence.
I had been visiting my lovely friend in New York and was on a bus driving through Boston at this point. I arrived in South Station at 3:10pm.
It was weird. Really weird. I got off the bus and headed into the terminal to buy my train ticket. Walking through, nothing seemed wrong. While I was buying my ticket, a TV mounted in a corner showed the footage. I wouldn't have even paused except a man who had ducked in to watch the news seemed really upset. It just kept flashing "BOMBS ON BOYLSTON" across the bottom. Even then, I didn't feel like I was getting it because that man was the only person reacting. No one else seemed to know or care.
I wandered around the station, watching people's faces to see if anyone knew about it but either they didn't think it wasn't a big deal or people truly hadn't heard. People started streaming into the station and the crowd was bigger and bigger. Suddenly everyone was on a cell phone, and I watched people's faces as they got the news. Police showed up and my husband called.
As a person trained for terrorism or any kind of outside threat, his first thing to me was to tell me to stay off public transportation. That was the first time I realized that this was pretty serious, based on his voice. He left work and drove impossibly fast to get me. I had left the station and sat in an alcove across the street, watching as more and more police arrived with heavy vests and a K9 unit. Sitting there I overheard a father sitting with his young son pick up the phone, clearly get the message that the bombs had gone off, and then heard him ask about injuries. I only heard his end when he said, "Limbs? Entire limbs?" That's a surreal, sickening thing to hear.
Traffic was getting heavier while sirens could be heard in every direction. My husband called me and I headed out to meet him, jumping into the Jeep in the middle of the street. He was intense- I think because he had trained for this to happen in other places, but never so close to home. I could see him trying to watch everyone who had a cell phone and we finally made it out of the city.
There is a toll on the way out of the city and the person in the booth yelled to us, "Get out now!" as we watched heavily armored trucks, command station vehicles, and police scream past on the other side.
I know this could have been a lot worse. It was just so surreal and I only saw a reverberation and not the incident itself. I can't even imagine.
What was so strange was how fast it became confusing. How strange it was to watch other people get the news. How strange it is to watch a pretty contented, happy city become scary and suspicious.
The destruction and loss of life could have been so much more, I know. But for people in the city not knowing exactly what was happening or having the benefit of seeing a news anchor calmly explain with helicopter footage, it was scary.
What's even stranger is how much it's become just another part of people's lives. It's amazing to me how resilient people are. Yes, it is still talked about, but not in hushed voices. When I arrived home at around 5pm that day, my mother looped it into her, "I've been so stressed today between Nana's health, my daughter was in Boston, my brother was having chest pains..." A city bombing ranked the same as any other concern.
This is why I don't know how to go at this. I feel, on the one hand, that it's a major deal and scary and I feel so awful for the victims. On the other hand, people went so easily back to their routines. In fact, even when I was in Boston, I watched two girls sharing a bagel, discussing the event matter-of-factly while acting completely casual. At the same time, a man walked past the panes of glass in front of me, delivering the day's shipment of cafe products to a Starbucks while people poured past him to get out of the city.
It would be like going to visit someone in the hospital who you were told was very, very sick only to find them looking like they always had while flipping through channels on their hospital TV. How do you react?