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Terror can come on the streets of Delhi… or Boston

Sedona Chinn, Crier Staff

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I took the bus to Boston to hear a band that was playing on Sunday night near the MFA. I had more than a couple IPAs with a higher than average alcohol content, but that had glorious names like Leviathan and Ruination. As a consequence, I relied on my boyfriend to guide me home, a task that if undertaken alone would have required a great deal of concentration.

In the morning, as a token of love and appreciation, I picked up breakfast from the nearby bagel joint. Bostonians were already decked out in their summer finest for Marathon Monday. One girl held a big gulp travel pitcher, while another sported a fanny pack. When we went out, our bus terminated at BU and so we happily followed the stream of people trickling past.

We arrived at mile 25 in time to watch the wheelchair racers, the motorcades for elite women and men, and soldiers in full fatigues and packs. But more uplifting was, the British spectators awaiting their son, marathoners in hot dog costumes, and the man who performed a cartwheel to the crowd’s applause after 25 miles of running.

By boyfriend and I made our way to Coolidge Corner to meet a friend of mine from high school for lunch. Marathoners who had already finished wore medals and plastic coats as they walked by us on drunken legs. We started eating without my friend, because she took 45 minutes to cross the marathon route. She luckily arrived before we finished all the pizza.

It was in the restaurant that my boyfriend got a call from his roommate: a bomb has gone off at the finish line. I was quick to question the truth of it—plenty of rumors were sure to get circulate today—but the link to pictures on twitter came a minute later. The blood sprayed on the empty sidewalk of Copley square couldn’t be so easily refuted.

After a couple of minutes, groups in the restaurant began to look more and more at their phones, including the bartenders. “Has no one else heard this?” asked a man behind us, to which another responded, “Those people have, and them,” indicating what tables were now bent over smart phones. No one announced it to the restaurant; no one would take it upon themselves to say beyond a doubt it was true.

We settled our bill quietly. “Text me when you get home,” I told my friend. We parted in opposite directions.

It had been a year since I asked a friend to text me when they arrived safely home. During the time I was in Delhi, there were two terrorist attacks. The first was a bomb outside the Indian parliament; the rain washed away the evidence. The second, a car bomb targeted the Israeli ambassador; his wife and children died. These had been far enough away as to not impose on our lives. It had been for daily dangers that we confirmed each other’s safety.

It was hard to tell whom on the street knew what had happened as my boyfriend and I walked back to his apartment. It could only have been ten minutes after the bombs exploded. Who of everyone looking at their phones, with children and friends, was looking at pictures of the stained and wrecked finish line?

A heavyset man in an oversized sweatshirt stopped me on the sidewalk, asking, “have you heard if anyone is hurt?” “I’ve heard six injured,” I said. I had asked my mom to text me what she heard on the news. ” No one dead?” he asked. “That’s all I’ve heard.” “How bad are they?” “That’s all I’ve heard,” I repeated. He moved quickly in the opposite direction towards the race.

Back at my boyfriend’s apartment, the first thing I did was to reactivate my Twitter account. Google’s first result for “Boston Marathon” and “bomb” was from Vanity Fair; the major news sites hadn’t yet put up their stories. When they did upload videos to Youtube, they came with advertisements. We turned on the TV and, without anything else to do, watched the same videos on repeat.

Eventually true information was separated from the false. Google set up a missing person finder. The Boston Globe connected stranded runners with Bostonians willing to offer their hospitality. The Red Cross reported it had enough blood. Parts of the T were closed. By evening, we had no new information and nothing left to do.

Together we made dinner, watched South Park, Vikings, and Game of Thrones. In my head, our commonplace activities were punctuated by dour reflections of how I ought to behave. Was I allowed to laugh at Cartman? Was I allowed to have easy conversation? Was I required to be grave, or obliged to keep living, when living in turn requires moments of happiness?

That the bombs had gone off, killing 2 and injuring 100 (at that point) was an irrefutable fact. I had watched the videos on TV so many times that it was solidly real in my head. Its being real, however, did not reconcile it with the other irrefutable fact of that day, which was the Boston Marathon itself. The later, being so completely characterized by celebration and by joyous solidarity, could not merge with the explosions, the hewn limbs, and the evacuated square. I had run the course, and I had crossed the finish line. Those memories from two years ago could not be reconciled with the day’s violence. They were two real events with the same magnetic pole that could not—can not—be brought together.

On Tuesday morning, my boyfriend and I walked on the sidewalk behind a man whose blue jacket and halted gate marked him as a marathon runner. From the yellow plastic bag slung over his shoulder, I guessed he had taken advantage of a stranger’s hospitality for the night he had not expected to spend in Boston. No one on the street congratulated him; no one asked if he had finished. Neither I nor anyone else knew what to say to this slow-moving stranger. We all just let him by without staring for too long.

The bombings, manhunt, and now arrest have led me to a decision I did not expect to make: I will run another marathon. The spirit of the Boston Marathon is one of communal celebration and solidarity, both of which rely fundamentally on trust. As runners we place our trust in the soccer moms handing us orange slices. As spectators we place our trust in our cheering comrades. Most of all we place our trust in the hope, inspiration, and achievement the Boston Marathon celebrates.

My next marathon will not carry fear nor fight against it; with such an intention I could never finish. It will celebrate a great community that comes together in joy, in fellowship, and in trust.

only have been ten minutes after the bombs exploded. Who of everyone looking at their phones, with children and friends, was looking at pictures of the stained and wrecked finish line?

A heavyset man in an oversized sweatshirt stopped me on the sidewalk, asking, “have you heard if anyone is hurt?” “I’ve heard six injured,” I said. I had asked my mom to text me what she heard on the news. ” No one dead?” he asked. “That’s all I’ve heard.” “How bad are they?” “That’s all I’ve heard,” I repeated. He moved quickly in the opposite direction towards the race.

Back at my boyfriend’s apartment, the first thing I did was to reactivate my Twitter account. Google’s first result for “Boston Marathon” and “bomb” was from Vanity Fair; the major news sites hadn’t yet put up their stories. When they did upload videos to Youtube, they came with advertisements. We turned on the TV and, without anything else to do, watched the same videos on repeat.

Eventually true information was separated from the false. Google set up a missing person finder. The Boston Globe connected stranded runners with Bostonians willing to offer their hospitality. The Red Cross reported it had enough blood. Parts of the T were closed. By evening, we had no new information and nothing left to do.

Together we made dinner, watched South Park, Vikings, and Game of Thrones. In my head, our commonplace activities were punctuated by dour reflections of how I ought to behave. Was I allowed to laugh at Cartman? Was I allowed to have easy conversation? Was I required to be grave, or obliged to keep living, when living in turn requires moments of happiness?

That the bombs had gone off, killing 2 and injuring 100 (at that point) was an irrefutable fact. I had watched the videos on TV so many times that it was solidly real in my head. Its being real, however, did not reconcile it with the other irrefutable fact of that day, which was the Boston Marathon itself. The later, being so completely characterized by celebration and by joyous solidarity, could not merge with the explosions, the hewn limbs, and the evacuated square. I had run the course, and I had crossed the finish line. Those memories from two years ago could not be reconciled with the day’s violence. They were two real events with the same magnetic pole that could not—can not—be brought together.

On Tuesday morning, my boyfriend and I walked on the sidewalk behind a man whose blue jacket and halted gate marked him as a marathon runner. From the yellow plastic bag slung over his shoulder, I guessed he had taken advantage of a stranger’s hospitality for the night he had not expected to spend in Boston. No one on the street congratulated him; no one asked if he had finished. Neither I nor anyone else knew what to say to this slow-moving stranger. We all just let him by without staring for too long.

The bombings, manhunt, and now arrest have led me to a decision I did not expect to make: I will run another marathon. The spirit of the Boston Marathon is one of communal celebration and solidarity, both of which rely fundamentally on trust. As runners we place our trust in the soccer moms handing us orange slices. As spectators we place our trust in our cheering comrades. Most of all we place our trust in the hope, inspiration, and achievement the Boston Marathon celebrates.

My next marathon will not carry fear nor fight against it; with such an intention I could never finish. It will celebrate a great community that comes together in joy, in fellowship, and in trust.

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Terror can come on the streets of Delhi… or Boston