My Boston Mind, Racing

April 17, 2013

Explosions at the Boston Marathon, says my Twitter feed, as retweeted by my brother. James never shows up in my Twitter feed. But then the next retweet is also from him, explosives, Boston, Marathon, Copley.

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Academy of Music Twitter feed.

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Academy of Music Twitter feed.

I feel nothing. Maybe a little curiosity. The tweets and retweets continue, and my feed is sliding downward, downward, refreshing, downward. I click on pictures. James is safe in New York. Tee. Tee! Tee is on a road trip with Mom, and they are okay, they are in Virginia. Dad works in Somerville. He is okay. He must be okay. Well, sometimes he travels, to look at houses, appraise them, decide whether to make loans on them. I walk out of my Chicago home towards the train. I have somewhere I must be. The air is warm, balmy, humid. The rain is soft and welcome on my face. I shouldn’t have put on the scarf. I call Dad, and leave him a voicemail. I know he must be okay, but I text him for good measure.

Jesse texts me, I text back. Everyone’s phones are giving me the busy tone, he tells me. That’s just because the lines are jammed, I say. The same thing happened in Boston during 9/11. I open up my email. Are you alive and well? I type to Dad. Jesse had said James had said Dad had said he was to be in New Hampshire today.

We’re also texting Mom and Tee in VA. They also know Dad is okay, they just talked to him. Someone tweets photos of rows of cop cars lined up in Times Square. I think of the way the FBI would surround the Empire State Building, their AK47s cradled in their brawny arms, whenever anything happened, anywhere, in the world. I am glad I no longer work there. I wonder what 34th Street in NY looks like now.

Photo courtesy of Chris Peterson's Twitter feed (@peteyMIT).

MIT Green Building, April 15, 2013. Photo courtesy of Chris Peterson’s Twitter feed (@peteyMIT).

My family is safe, and I sit on the Chicago red line, but the weight on my chest grows heavier. I text Chris* in North Carolina: is your family all safe? And he texts back: I was just going to call you. I post to Facebook that I am grateful, that all the Boston Pinhos are safe. Natalie in NY says: I was just about to call you. Fiona in Cairo says: Oh god. That’s a relief. Suddenly, I remember being stopped mid-online-conversation two years ago as the building near her mom’s Palestinian house is bombed by Israeli airplanes, and I wait with bated breath for the generator in her mother’s home to turn on, and she comes back online and says oh fuck, that one made my mom jump right off the couch out of her nap.

There were two explosions, one after another, barely blocks away from each other, and then it was over, but of a sudden someone begins tweeting about some flames way across town, at JFK, and now my heart is pounding, and I am jittery, and by now Dad has texted back and I text him again, don’t leave home, now that he’s returned from NH after all, and he says there’s no reason he would go to downtown Boston now. Dotty is safe, she just got home, so is Dan, he works far out in the suburbs anyways. I reach farther out into my circle: I haven’t seen Nate in over three years, but I need to know he’s okay. Steph posts to Facebook, posts to Facebook again, tweets: she had been standing exactly at the finish line, but had headed towards home minutes before, was on Newbury Street a block away when she heard the blast and then just ran and ran and was home safe.

I write a haiku:

The Boston Marathon
Bombs, pain, fear, Copley
Far from Boston: Mom, Dad, Tee
And I am thankful.

I’m on group WeChat, the Fabulous Four, for that’s what we are, us four sisters in Los Angeles, Virginia, Seattle, Chicago. On this group chat, Emily castigates Christine because she hasn’t gotten her ankle checked out, the one she twisted while running, since Emily is a nurse and knows what can go wrong, and Tee sends us pictures of her driving on the highway with just her driving permit, en route to visit colleges down south, and I send pictures of Chicago’s blue sky and tell Tee she really should study here, and we discuss the way our nipples change size during the menstrual cycle and decide that one sister’s potential lover may, actually, be a loser instead of someone who should be allowed her interest. The jury’s still out on that one.


In this particular moment, though, Tee says she’s crying, that 9/11 and Newtown have taken on a whole new meaning, and I’m saying Tee, I’m SO glad you’re out of town, I keep thinking: Tee would have been there. And Tee: It’s so true! So scary–I’m there ALL the time… I wonder how different it’s going to be.

They say that in the midst of risk, or death, or great fear, or even great emotion, humans want to mate, to fuck, to nod to the life there is. Maybe it’s because I felt no risk, nor death, nor great fear, but all I want to do is kiss someone, call people I love, tell people I love them. And I want to cry. Must be I still have the jitters. But I’m in a classroom now, and this Princeton Review proctored LSAT must go on.

*Some names changed.

Further Reading:
Patton Oswalt getting it right (Patton Oswalt’s Facebook page; see post from Monday, April 15, 2013)
The Colbert Report (on an event celebrating people who run 26 miles on their day off until their nipples are raw, for fun). (Colbert Nation)
President Obama’s April 16 Speech on Boston Marathon Bombings (Transcript and Video) (Time Swampland)


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