Saturday, March 7, 2015

Nick's Notes: Marathon Memories

Boston's been on my mind this week. The trial of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev started on Wednesday and memories of April 15, 2013, keep popping into my head.
I remember that day well. I stood on Clarendon Street with a high school friend in the family meeting
area about two blocks from the finish line.
She had just finished the race about 15 minutes earlier. We talked about meeting for dinner later and that's when we heard the blasts. I thought they were celebratory fireworks, due to the fact that it was Patriots Day (a Massachusetts holiday)
Ambulances rushed in minutes later. After wandering around a few blocks watching SWAT teams, police cars, and confused bystanders try to get anywhere else, I planted myself at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart, not really knowing what to do.
Seeing the trial updates fill me with a range of emotions: shock, anger, fury, sadness, terror.
However, I try not to let those things be what I take away from that day, though they pulsate through my heart whenever I see photos or videos from the finish line.
I decided to walk back to my apartment after the initial shock of the afternoon wore off.
I couldn't make my way up Commonwealth Avenue, so I went through a maze of side streets before finally walking past a fraternity house by Boston University.
A college student stood out on his stoop asking if people needed anything. He looked desperate to do anything that could alleviate some of the pain and confusion among the masses of people that walked by.
I took a glass of water from a red Solo cup and thanked him. It calmed me down and reminded me that small gestures of kindness help light the path through this big, scary world.
About six months later, I stood in front of the Forum Restaurant on Commonwealth Avenue, where the second bomb went off. I was there to report on the Red Sox World Series parade.
I watched from the tree because I thought it would be symbolic. However, most people forgot that the second bomb went off at that location. A tree was planted there, but people had thrown their cigarette butts around it. That infuriated me.
It's easy to declare "Never Forget" with our metaphorical bullhorns and bumper stickers, but it's hard to observe some quiet reverence.
Remember those small things that get forgotten in the larger narrative.
My mind most often travels back to Suzanne, a middle-aged Greek woman whom I passed in Kenmore Square about an hour before the bombs went off. She was the happiest person I saw all day.
The reason she sticks with me is that she was blind. Her ability to cultivate such radiant joy makes me tear up as I write this.
Anger is a completely justifiable reaction to what happened, but I hope it doesn't cloud over the hundreds of other emotions that grew from that day. Remember kindness, remember respect, and remember joy, even if you can't see it in front of you.

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