Monday, May 20, 2013

The Marathon Post

It was a pretty nice day today. The first kind of summer-y day this year that I can recall. I'm looking out the window into the parking lot behind our apartment towards a pretty decent sunset. A woman just walked through the lot in shorts and a tank top carrying something like a cooler. Festive. Barbecue-y.

I thought that today would be the day I finally wrote about this year's Boston Marathon and maybe about the lockdown that followed four days later. This could be a long-ie though so we'll see how far I get.

Patriots' Day, the day the Boston Marathon is run, is an unusual holiday in Boston: a non-drinking holiday. Of course many spectators do drink quite a bit even so. It's just that Patriots' Day isn't a regular holiday that involves a specific celebratory meal like Thanksgiving (wine, beer) or a meal and a series of festive parties like Christmas (Champagne, wine, punch, whatever booze is handy) or exclusively about celebration like July 4th (beer) or almost entirely about drinking like St. Patrick's Day (beer beer beer beer and beer) Officially one celebrates Patriots' Day by re-enacting the first battles of the American Revolution. No doubt some of the re-enactors are also armed with flasks. Maybe there's also some wine in the generals' tents for the sake of historical accuracy.

I haven't done any research but I feel it's safe to assume that most people in the Boston area have some interaction with the marathon on Patriots' Day (a.k.a. Marathon Monday) if only because it passes through some very bustling, strategically located suburbs and through the heart of the city. It cuts off large swaths of at least a few towns for hours.

It's also free, really easy to find and cool to watch. I mean those athletes are so impressive. Some of them are your friends and you can see them go by and cheer them on. And once they've gone by and you remark to the people you're standing there watching with about how amazing that was, it's pretty festive to head into the local pub for a pint. Right? I mean, why not? After all, your car is parked on the other side of the road and you won't be able to get across the street to it for another three hours. Oh wait - you took the T? Well you're probably thirsty anyway.

Pub or no, watching the marathon is a fun way to spend an uplifting chunk of the day outside. Cheering the runners on makes you feel good. Watching people do something amazing makes you feel good. Seeing someone running a marathon dressed as the Old North Church imparts a deep sense of awe.

My friend, Lisa, and I have recently developed a loose tradition on Patriots' Day. She usually has some event to go to later in the month that she needs an outfit for so we go shopping downtown at the Prudential Center. Here it is on a Google map. It's right down at the finish line.

It's a lot of fun to come up out of the T station into an alternate reality of milling tourists, mylar blanket-clad runners, first aid tents, marathon-logoed-windbreaker-wearing marathon volunteers, hydration stations, port-a-potties and school busses filled with yellow bags containing the runners' personal belongings. It's very different from a normal downtown Monday.

This day the scene was no different from any other Marathon Monday. I enjoyed the sights as I walked across the Common and through the Public Garden from the Downtown Crossing station. Lisa was coming from the South End so we texted each other about the crowds as we neared the mall.

The shopping was fun. Low-key. We tried on a lot of perfume. I bought a lipstick. I don't remember if Lisa bought anything. As you walk from store to store sometimes you cross the streets on elevated walkways and you could see runners approaching the finish line a block away or so. We had a delicious fish sandwiches and a Bloody Mary each (she asked for six stalks of celery, clever girl) at Legal Seafoods and parted ways.

Okay, don't kill me but I had to be back in Cambridge for a 3 PM massage. Don't be jealous - just schedule one for yourself. I left downtown at 2:15. There were marathoners on my T car wearing medals, carrying their yellow marathon gear bags, looking very relaxed and satisfied and being congratulated by the other passengers. Everybody seemed to be in a pretty good mood. All was calm.

The best I can figure it, the train I was on was in Cambridge, somewhere between Harvard Square station and Porter Square when the first bomb went off. Our train arrived in Davis Square, where I got off, without incident. There was no hint of anything out of the ordinary as I walked to my appointment.

I had a great massage. Matt, the masseur left the room while I changed back into my clothes. When I came out into the waiting room he looked up wide-eyed from his iPhone and said "Someone's bombed the marathon."

I said - like an idiot - "But I was just there!" It seemed impossible though. Everything was great when I left. Everything was fun and happy and normal. I was just there and it was fine. I couldn't believe it. Matt pulled out his laptop and we watched videos of what had happened. It was so shocking.

Finally I paid him, walked home and turned on the T.V.. For hours - no sound. I mean they were showing the same brief footage over and over again and talking and talking incessantly though they had no real information to impart. There was no point in listening.

I texted Lisa (I didn't know if she'd left when I did - she was fine) and my family in California and e-mailed Pete and other friends and relatives to let them know we were all safe. I don't remember what else I did that night. My journal says I went to the grocery store and cooked food for the week. Homey stuff. I must have Facebooked so I could track my friends and make sure they were okay too.

The next day I took the T as usual to my new day-job. The only unusual part was that there were armed National Guardspeople (some were women) at the stop where I got out. We uneventfully wished each other a good morning.

The next few days were pretty normal until Friday but that's going to be another story for another post.

Now I have to go to bed. I've been waking up at five AM these days so I have to go to bed early. I know I haven't been around here much lately. I've been incommunicative. I've been completely rearranging my life and my mind and my attitude over the past several months. Things are looking pretty good these days. Life is much more fun now. I'm hoping that soon I'll figure out how to reclaim my blogging time - and my blog reading time.

For now, goodnight!


Anonymous said...

May be related to you through Helen McGrath married to Samuel Yacker in 1934. Will check back to see if you can confirm and will get in touch with you again. Thanks

melissa weiss said...

Indeed you may.