From my Back Bay Boston penthouse, I can see all the way to Copley Square. It was a clear blue morning. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. Through the half open slats on the shutters I could see an American Flag off in the distance at half-mast on top of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. The choppers were on full alert throughout the night and morning. The sirens have started to dissipate.
It’s the day after the Boston Marathon: It’s the day after my city was bombed. Yesterday was ideal weather conditions for the annual run, unlike last year where it was about eighty degrees. There were many runners who dropped out last year due to the heat––it was unbearable. This year there were many runners who never made it across the finish line because they were forced to stop less than a mile from the finish––the race had been canceled. The runners were corralled in Kenmore Square with no idea what was going on less than a mile ahead.
I don’t consider myself a runner, although I run once in a while with my good friend Mark. I was a spectator this year like every year because Mark was running it. He’s a die-hard runner and I support him. His brother and I took the train out to mile 16 just so that we could earn our 5-minutes of fame by handing off a bottle of Mark’s favorite power drink to him as he ran by––success! We jumped right back on the train just in time to see him cross the finish line.
We gathered at the finish line for approximately 30 minutes waiting for Mark’s girlfriend to finish. Mark thought we probably missed her, so we walked with him towards the family waiting area. At that point he said, “you and my brother head back to my house and I’ll be back there in 30 minutes and we’ll do dinner.” We left Mark and started to head down Clarendon St. We were two blocks away when the bombs went off. I felt it. In my head, I thought, what the fuck was that, but then I thought, it’s Patriots Day––maybe they’re firing the canons on The Esplanade.
I walked up the stairs to my brownstone, opened the door and was greeted by my hungry little dog. I immediately heard muffled sounds coming from the roof and then sirens––sirens like I had never heard before. I climbed the ladder and opened my roof hatch. My neighbors were on their roof decks looking toward the marathon route and asked me if I saw the bombs go off. “What! Where were they?” I asked. “Over by the finish line”, they said––very close to where I had just left Mark.
I panicked. I threw some food in the dog bowl and I grabbed my jacket and was out the door, neighbor in tow. We ran back to Boylston Street and at that exact moment, police started to barricade the area and was pushing people away from the scene. I needed to find Mark. It was chaos––people were running everywhere. The trains were all shut down and so were some of the streets. Usually thousands of spectators pack Boylston Street for this event and they mostly arrive by train. People didn’t know what to do. News photographers were running at us with their large lenses and police, fire and emergency vehicles were coming in a steady stream from all directions.
We began heading toward Mark’s house. I tried to call his brother who was back at the house and there was no answer and he wasn’t returning my texts––cell coverage was starting to get spotty. When I got to the house Mark’s brother was standing outside. “Is he back yet”, I yelled. He wasn’t. I was determined to stand by his front door until he got home. I needed to see his face. As we stood outside waiting, I checked Twitter to see what was going on. People were huddled around my little camera phone to see pictures that people had been posting––it was horrible. One woman stopped and asked us if any of us had a car. Another said, I didn’t get to finish and I have no idea how to get home. We felt helpless.
About ten minutes passed and another concerned friend showed up to wait with us. My phone started to ring every few minutes with either a family member checking on me, or friends from far and away. I was touched at the amount of people who cared to reach out knowing that I lived in Boston and also so close to the marathon. If it were any of them in this circumstance, I’d be doing the exact same thing.
My friend Mark has always been one of my biggest supporters. One of his best traits is that he values loyalty above all else. His loyal friends were there at his house waiting like his obedient Labradors as he turned the corner onto his street with his girlfriend and her parents. We learned that she had finished the race twelve minutes before the first bomb exploded and her parents were near the grandstands in-between the two explosions and were lead to safety by a helpful bystander. Mark’s friends and current and former co-workers were calling every minute. He was shocked by the support that he received. I wasn’t surprised for one bit because this guy is a stand-up guy. He’s the type of person that leaves a lasting impression, and truly cares about his close friends as if they were family members.
Yesterday was one of the most nerve-racking days that I’ve ever felt and it spilled over to today. My wife never made it home last night because of the bridge and street closings, so I’ll be happy to see her smiling face soon. It’s hard to be separated from your loved ones in crisis situations like what we have gone through.
It’s been a little more than 24 hours since the event occurred. Our parks have been turned into parking lots for TV news and satellite dishes from all over the place. There are police in riot gear with assault weapons posted at the entrances to our train stations. The last stretch of the marathon route on Boylston Street where the two bombs went off have been left untouched as state and local officials scour the area for clues to what happened.
I’m still in shock that this disgusting and disturbing attack happened in my neighborhood. I only can hope it returns to normal soon.