There Ain't No Fear Here: Boston Strong
Boston. My heart bleeds for you.
And for all of us.
I'm from Providence. The Northeast. A bustling, busy part of the the country where the pace is fast. People are tough. Traditions are strong. And history runs deep.
Like Patriots Day. And the Boston Marathon. And neighborhoods like the Back Bay where people celebrate by lining Boyleston on the regular, waiting patiently for something wonderful to pass. Like the entire Red Sox team after winning the World Series or the Patriots after taking the Super Bowl.
I've been there.
Shouting congrats to Jacoby Ellsbury, with the Old South Church at Dartmouth and Boylston, to my back, only feet from the first blast site. I still remember the clock striking noon, with my most pressing concern being where to get lunch after the Duck boats had rolled by and hoping not to get caught in traffic on the ride home.
My heart bleeds. For so many reasons.
Because while life as we know it surely changed on September 11, 2001, clearly, this was not the end, but merely the beginning. And as Americans, we've been sadly naive, clinging to our innocence, freedoms and independence, while sickos continue to plot from the shadows.
I don't believe that we've forgotten. But it's easy to let our guard down. To believe our city isn't a target. That these things happen in more dangerous urban centers. Places we don't call home.
This, I am guilty.
Until Monday, I naively believed, or maybe hoped is the better word, there was some uniform, countrywide standard of safety. A mandate by Homeland security to remove all trash cans during large scale events. And mailboxes. And ban large bags. And create a zone where people had to pass through security to get close to the action.
Even though I walked directly to the barricade for the Sox parade in 2007.
Even though my city's signature Waterfire has never functioned under such high security, and I can't even imagine how it could.
Even though I act like this has been my experience in New York City all of the time, but that's far from true. In 2011, when my girlfriend, casually rolled her carry-on, into a high profile, live televised event in NYC, I expected, "Sorry, miss. You can't bring that it in here". But those words never came.
I realize that I've been lying to myself, holding onto this smallest sense of security to allow myself not just to continue functioning, but to explore. To live. Without being afraid.
The day of the Boston bombings, someone told me that it was better to stay small. As in keep close to home. And I can't stop thinking about that. Because there's absolutely no richness in fear.
And that's not the kind of life I want to lead.
I know life comes with no guarantees, even close to home. I got that lesson loud and clear when I was ten, and my older cousin Billy was in a horrible car crash that killed five of his high school buddies, and his West Point dreams. And while he technically survived for many years afterwards, he never was able to live.
It was again reinforced for me on September 11, as I watched the towers fall on a perfect late summer day from Providence. Two weeks before, in a hotel room in Tribeca, with the tips of the towers in view, I was regretful we couldn't squeeze in a visit before heading home. My husband replied, "Don't worry. They'll always be there."
These moments have defined me.
The truth is just being alive is a risk. With or without terrorists. My neighborhood? Historic. Funky. Beautiful. Artsy. A-ma-zing. But the reality is that it borders gang territory. And if I'm completely honestly, the probability of getting taken out by a stray bullet in a drive-by, is statistically higher than getting wiped out by a bomber.
But still, I love it here. And I'm not quite ready to pull the covers up over my head or watch the world go by on TV, from my recliner.
The only thing that I know with a fair amount of certainty is that no one who came out to watch the true ritual of human endurance that is the Boston Marathon, on a Monday afternoon, considered for a second that their own bodies could be attacked, while simply cheering on the sidelines.
They were not afraid.
And I vow not to be either.