Yesterday, at around 4:30, I was working away at Insticator HQ like any other weekday afternoon. I had come back from lunch around an hour before. I was working away at my myriad projects when my coworker mentions that something happened in Boston. Within minutes, the explosions that ripped through the Boston Marathon had inundated every news and media page, with details of the damage and potential causes evolving rapid-pace, one after the other like some sort of frenzied leap frog.
Then the facebook posts started. Folks, I'm from Boston, and I can't really explain how jarring it was to see so many of my friends and family members reaching out, confirming they were okay or expressing their shock, and generally searching for information on the whereabouts and wellbeing of their own friends and family members. I immediately called my Boston family (including my mother, step-father, grandmother, aunts, and uncles) and all of my Boston friends. I was unable to get in touch with a number of friends who I knew had gone to the marathon, either as runners or as finish-line spectators. I refreshed my feed over and over, urgently asking my Boston people to get in touch, and to stay safe. I wound up listening to a live feed of the Boston Police, Fire, and EMS radio for any details. Even though it was mostly just static and communication between officers regarding who was being posted where, it seemed more comforting than the chaotic void of uncertainty, the scrambling for assurance that things were alright when they very much weren't.
I kept seeing images of blood spattering Boylston Street, a street I so frequently walked as a kid and a young adult, where I spent my youth, and I just started freaking out. I heard reports of third, fourth, fifth bombings, bombs on the T, bombs at the JFK library, I heard sirens outside the office windows and I started to panic. I immediately felt the need to be home, and I left. I spent the rest of the night in a panicked daze.
The bombings evoked many, many reactions, reactions I watched unfold from the first moment I heard up to this moment. They evoked dismay, shock, and horror. They evoked feelings of helplessness, of vulnerability. They evoked anger and quick judgement (such as the NY Post's hasty and erroneous report that a Saudi national had been arrested for the bombings). They evoked enormous outpourings of love and support and concern. They evoked bravery on the part of First Responders, tales of heroic folks who continued running from the Marathon path all the way to Mass General to donate blood, of massive aid to the effort to find friends and family by Google and the Red Cross (like Google Person Finder and Red Cross Safe and Well). They led to people cherishing their lives, cherishing their loved ones, and recognizing how easily everything can be taken from us (and therefore how much we should value everything we have while we have it.) They led to people recognizing and realizing that the reports of violence and death we hear about on the news in other places, be it by other regimes (as in Syria, for instance) or our own government (for instance, via drone strike) are real and horrifying. They led, in many ways, to communities and individuals thinking about their lives and caring for one another.
This, of course, is not to say that the bombing was positive in any way: it was, of course, a tragedy. But consider the ways the reactions to this tragedy, like the reactions to all tragedies, speak to the enormous breadth of the human experience.
I'd like to bring a quote from a dude much more well versed than I, one mister Patton Oswalt, who speaks to what I'm feeling right now.
So, folks, be safe and be well. Live well and love one another during your amazingly lucky. incredibly improbable existence. Remember that pain is pain, tragedy is tragedy, no matter where it strikes, and that we should all take responsibility for being the good that overcomes the broken, the oppressive, and the evil in this world.
And Boston, I will always love that dirty water. You'll always be my home.