Sunday, April 28, 2013

The past couple weeks, in Watertown.

I live in Watertown.  Have I ever told you that?

Probably not, because its not a particularly interesting place usually--an average suburb outside of a great city, where people commute home to or whiz on by on the Pike.  And probably not, because I sometimes think its hard to talk specifics in the blog world, just in case.  And probably not, because who would know or are where Watertown is, before April 19?

I read something great that the Watertown Police Chief said last week...until now, if you were out in the world as a Watertown resident, when people asked where you were from, you would definitely say "Boston."  Now when people ask...I'll be saying I am from Watertown.  For better or worse, people will know where that is now.  But more importantly, I have a great sense of pride in what Watertown and its people are all about. 

I have only been back in the Boston area for four years, but I have loved it fiercely before and since, and Marathon Monday is one of those city holidays that people who have never been don't get, but people who have been a part of it love unconditionally.  In the past few years, I've spent that Monday on the race course, meeting Steve for a quick lunch as a "treat" on one of those first perfect spring days, watching the Red Sox at Fenway in an early 11AM game that spills out onto the city streets to watch the runners in their last miles.  Its such a great heralding in of the warm weather, a whole city thawing out and turning faces to the sunny skies. 

It was just a crazy week from start to finish, starting early morning Marathon Monday and lasting straight through to the final hours of Friday night. We didn't have a solid plan for the marathon, and since J's naptime really always falls right in the middle of a day I had thought we might miss the race this year.  We planned to meet Steve for an early lunch in Harvard Square, a fun little outing on a day that's a half-holiday even though he has to work.  But mid-morning I got inspired with some can-do spirit and pitched the idea to ride the T to Kenmore Square to see a little bit of the day--hear the crowds at Fenway and see some runners.  Its funny because life with a toddler is a constant mix of scaling back your expectations for what is possible in a day OR pushing yourselves to make things happen despite schedule challenges.  On marathon Monday I got the itch to push to make some memories and take J, Steve, the hiking backpack and a lot of snacks onto the race course.  We did it!  Made it to Kenmore Square, saw some of the early runners, grabbed a Italian Sausage outside the ballpark, and soaked up some good Boston magic, all while pushing the naptime barrier.

We headed home when we couldn't ignore the eye-rubbing anymore.  We laughed that even though we had spent less than 45 minutes downtown, we could say we "went downtown to Kenmore and watched the marathon and walked around Fenway" like it was no big deal.  We headed back on the T (subway) around 1 or so, and I got home a little after 2, put J down for a nap and turned on the Red Sox on the radio app (I'm retro like that) while I cruised blogs and patted myself on the back for making a fun day.  Just before 3, my friend texted me frantically asking if we were home, telling me about the explosions.  I couldn't believe it--less than a mile from where we had just left, right over the subway we were riding in the pic above...that whole afternoon I just felt such sadness.  Sadness for our city, sadness for the fact that only hours before I had felt so good about taking our little guy to see something so special.  Sadness for the victims and their families, and for runners not getting to finish their race. 

The rest of the week felt equal parts melancholy and fiercely filled with Boston's spirit.  Seeing flags at half mast and buses cruising by with "Boston Strong" rotating with the routes, I felt sure that we had come together.  Thursday night I was up late working when I saw news of an MIT shooting, and I just thought that this week had better end soon...I went to bed without turning on the TV, just wanting to unplug. 

At 5:15AM, Steve jolted me awake--we had received a few texts from friends waking up to the news, and our phones were filled with notes like "guys, don't leave the says there is a shooter on the loose in Watertown."  I don't think I have ever woken up to stranger news.  I loaded up twitter, bleary eyed, to see what had unfolded over night--gunfire exchanged right behind the Target I frequent all too often, and a stay inside order for our town and towns surrounding. 

We peered out the windows to quiet streets, already people shut in tight as I watched the news, incredulous at how close the action was.  We turned off the TV when J woke up, after he gleefully counted the police cars on the screen--we were worried that the threat of an explosive vest was just too much if anything happened live.  And then we began a long day shut inside with a toddler, with no explanation of why we can't go to the park, can't go outside, can't drive in Mommy's car.  J was remarkably good all day, as we followed news on twitter and caught glimpses of news coverage during naptime.  So strange to spend a 70 degree day never hearing a dog bark, a cell phone conversation as someone strolled outside, cars driving by.  Just the chop of helicopters and the wind.  I was so impressed by how much people LISTENED--staying inside as directed, giving law enforcement the room to work, waiting for the all clear.  I received emails, texts, calls from people all over to check with us--so nice to feel community on a lonesome day. 

When the 6pm news conference told us that they hadn't found him but we could go out and be vigilant...I wasn't excited knowing that it wasn't over, that we had to make the decision on our own what to do.  We finished up our day, and I took J up to bed just before 7, silently thankful he never knew what was going on and the day had passed without any meltdowns.  As I worked through our third storybook, I felt the phone in my back pocket buzzing with text after text.  I waited to check it until I had closed the door for bedtime behind me, once again seeing things I couldn't believe..."shots fired! are you seeing this?? turn on the tv!"  I raced to turn on the news again, telling Steve to come back inside from grilling after the all clear.  As we did this, I heard the helicopters, much more overhead now, and saw on TV that the police and media had moved much closer--just down the hill from where we live, on another familiar corner.  We watched the final scenes play out like a movie, glued to our TV and watching the spotlight of the helicopter rove over our neighbor's roof every few minutes.  When the words came on the screen--"SUSPECT IN CUSTODY"--I felt tears coming, tears of relief, gratefulness, and exhaustion. 

I feel so proud of Boston, of Watertown, our law enforcement, and the residents of the area--coming together to mourn, to protect, and to move on.  Steve went down the hill that night to applaud the parade of police cars that night, and I have loved seeing the way the pride has come out around the city in the past week.  I hope all continue to heal.  I feel so happy to live here, in our hometown...of Watertown.

**So sorry this is so LONG...I wanted to get this all down to remember it! Thanks for reading :)


  1. So glad you are safe and sound! Great recap and glad it's all down to remember in 10 years.

  2. Absolutely nothing to apologize for. It's good you wrote it all down, esp how you were feeling. This will be revisited for years to come and your son will have complete information on what happened in your home during the events.

    1. Thanks so much Gigi!:) I already love having this written down.


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