Bombs in Boston, and other thoughts

I’m not sure I can explain how I feel right now.

My life is weird sometimes. I live in Arkansas.  Not that living in Arkansas is weird (although some might wonder), but even though I live here, I’m still a Yankee.  When a big storm is hitting Madison or New England or New York, I always feel this strange emotion, almost like guilt that I’m not there suffering through it with my fellow hardy cold-weather folk.

So today, when bombs went off in Boston, I didn’t, and still don’t, know what to do.  I was sitting in a coworkers office, merrily chatting about the relay marathon she had run, and I had volunteered at, the day before, when the bombs were going off.  I didn’t find out about them until later.

Social media gave me my first hint that something was amiss.  The first link I clicked on was the graphic video shot by a producer that caught the actual explosion, and for a few seconds I wondered if it was old video from London or somewhere else, you know, somewhere that has been bombed.  Then I realized it was Boston.   I reached for my phone, fired off a few texts to friends and family with Boston connections, and 30 seconds later, my staff came in for a meeting.   I’m not sure what I said during that meeting, but I can guarantee it wasn’t the supportive and cheerful stuff I should have said.

Then I had to go to an event for work.  I sat in a lovely living room, dutifully taking notes, surreptitiously scanning facebook and twitter on my fast-dying smartphone for info about a few remaining friends I hadn’t heard from.  A tweet proclaimed that an 8-year old was among the dead.

I looked out the window at a gorgeous blue sky, green fields, cows grazing.  An absolutely perfect day here in Arkansas.  The sky was exactly the same color as it was on 9/11/01.

Now I’m home, alone, with my dog, who seems to get that something is off.  My facebook and twitter feeds are a bizarre mix of thoughts on Boston and the same usual posts about kids, food, crafts and happy news.  And it just strikes me as…weird.  I know most of the good-natured posts are people trying to cope with the shock of this.

But I’m sure there are some that are simply unaware that’s it’s happened.  And that’s where this gets truly puzzling to me.  This is BOSTON.  This is my big city, the one we traveled to for school field trips, home of Fenway and Storrow Drive and the Garden and Make Way for Ducklings.  How can the world not be consumed by it?

It’s a good reminder that we all call different places home, and we get our news in different ways.  After all, when big news about the Razorbacks comes out, I probably weird my Arkansas friends out by not posting about it.  Obviously this is not the same, but hopefully you get my point.

Today is Patriots Day in New England.  To be honest, I’d forgotten about it.  It’s when the Marathon is run, the Sox play at home, and those who remember it remember battles fought during the Revolutionary war.  It’ll be remembered for different reasons now.

It’s weird that we can hear about tragedy so quickly.  It’s weird that we can feel guilty about not being there to help, or at least to grieve, with the people of Boston.  And it’s really effing weird that sick people can do this stuff to other people.  But they aren’t going to be the story for long.

Not to get too mushy too soon, but I want to go back to that video.  It caught the blasts, about 15 seconds apart.  And then it went on for minutes, chronicling the runners, policemen, soldiers and average humans working feverishly to tear down a fence separating them from the victims of the explosions.   More bombs could have gone off, but those people didn’t care; they were trying to help.  As President Bartlett once said in a West Wing episode; “they ran into the fire.”  As Mr. Rogers’s mom said; “look for the helpers.”

I can’t be that articulate, but I can say, “Screw you, you assholes who did this. The helpers were there long after you left.  They are still there.  We’re better than you. We’re heartbroken, we’re shaken, but there are more of us than there are of you.  We will win.”

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