I was feeling so homesick yesterday morning. Watching the coverage of the Boston Marathon, I remembered what a shock it was when I moved to Texas and realized that Marathon Monday - er, rather, Patriots’ Day - wasn’t a holiday to the rest of the world. Weren’t they patriots?, I wondered. Why weren’t they home watching coverage on TV? Didn’t they care about how the runners fared? Didn’t they want to watch the seemingly death-defying feat of runners’ pushing themselves up Heartbreak Hill? Sure, everyone still knew of the Boston Marathon – arguably the toughest, most famous marathon around – but they couldn’t tell you so much as when it was held. Apparently that’s more of a local thing. And so year after year I watch from work, wishing I was back in Mass., where my kids would have the day off school and so I would probably be home, too, watching on TV and cheering on my fellow runners. Instead, I cheered from my office in Texas, following on Twitter and chatting back and forth with a running buddy who was there, cheering.
And then I went to lunch.
All I did was go to lunch, that’s what I kept thinking as I read through the dozens of messages online, through the news reports of the explosions that had just gone off near the finish line. Two killed, six injured. 20 injured. 40. The number climbed, my anxiety climbed, the activity at work started ratcheting up, too. Was it terrorism? Would this affect the airlines? Rumors swirled. Boston may or may not have shut down cell service [we know now that service was overloaded, not shut down]. I was glued to the newsfeeds, constantly comparing my reactions and feelings in real-time to those of 9/11. As the afternoon crawled forward, I found myself curiously torn between feelings of “I want to move home right now, Sam-I-am” and “Screw you. Imma go running, tonight. You want us to feel terrorized? I decline. I decline to change my routine in any way other than to very purposefully turn my back on you. See how you like it when instead of attention, what you get is derision.”
But could I do that? This attack felt so personal. Boston is home. Two of the planes used for 9/11 departed from Boston Logan. Now this, whether foreign or domestic. It felt personal. Would that make me be all angsty? All, Oh, you terrorist bastards! Again?! I HATE YOU! Or could I keep my routine normal? Could I use the fact that this was home to be all, Oh, you bastards. Well screw you. We’re from Boston. Let’s donate blood, catch the morons, change out our Bruins tickets and hold another marathon tomorrow. It turns out, yes. Yes I can. The girls and I ate a quick dinner out and went for a walk (since I had the girls, it was my compromise because I couldn’t go for a run), chatted on the phone with Auntie Kim, did homework and took baths. We did it. I chose normal and we did it. I could mourn for what happened, for those killed or injured, and keep on keepin’ on.
Tonight I will go for a run of epic proportions. (For me at least. Heh.) Then I’ll come home and do some transcription. It’s all good. Okay, not really - it’s HORRIBLE. It’s a national tragedy and my heart is overflowing with anger that this can happen, and compassion towards the runners, the spectators, and all of the friends and family members who were panicked and worried and scared yesterday. My heart is feeling all the feelings for everyone in Boston. I don’t want anyone for a minute to think that they are not loved with a very full heart. BUT. I choose to go about my day as I would any other day. I choose not to avoid any crowds I would have been a part of the day before yesterday. I choose to attend ball games and hockey games and gatherings as usual. I choose to use mass transit. I choose to not change my life because of these morons. I choose hope and calm determination over anxiety and fear. Throw another marathon tomorrow and I will choose to fly home and stand right there cheering everyone on. Because I am from Boston and I choose to use that rather endearing “Screw you” attitude that we have for good not evil.
So screw you, you morons. The redcoats didn’t scare us. City planning and rush hour traffic doesn’t scare us. 9/11 didn’t scare us. TSA security lines don’t scare us. Yankees fans don’t scare us. And you will not scare us either. You will not scare us and you will not change us. We’ll catch you, and then we’ll forget about you. And if we don’t? We’ll still be here in a year, running our marathon and cheering from the sidelines. It takes a lot to change something that Boston holds dear. And you, sir, will never be anything more than a local footnote.
There. I feel a little better now. Who’s up for a run?