Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston - Act 3: After the Race

So I was sitting on the curb at the L in the family meeting area. Hanging with a few loopsters and waiting for more to show. Also waiting for my wife to meet us here. It was crowded and the wind made it darn chilly. If you went past the finish line to the next street, turned right and went two blocks, that's where we were.

Suddenly we hear a loud boom, which seemed out of place. "What the hell was that?" was the general reaction. My first thought was it was some kind of cannon celebration, although that made no sense at that time. Then the second boom. Quizzical looks. Speculation started. A gas leak? In the sewers? A transformer blown? No one knew. It took maybe 5-10 minutes before someone said bomb. Soon, someone was definite; Yes, there were two bombs near the finish line. Some people are hurt.

We still sat there, or stood. Waiting for friends and family. Some came by. We texted a lot, but many didn't go through due to the cell volume. Gradually we heard that there was blood and limbs, and it was bad. We heard a lot of sirens. We were kind of in shock - not knowing what to do. Thankfully we didn't see anything, no smoke, no panicked activity. It was relatively mellow with lots of people standing around trying to get info. Occasionally people would arrive and hug each other. Eventually we realized no one else was coming to the L, and we needed to get out of there.

Erin and I both needed to get back to the boat so we started walking. We knew the subway was closed, but we also knew it was only about a mile and a half or so to walk back, so we started walking. We weren't sure where to go exactly, but we had a general idea, and found a map that got us on track. Of course we were both hurting and moving slow, with every step off of a curb avoided. But with all the stuff going down, we didn't feel like complaining about sore muscles.

The sirens kept coming and going. We walked along Boston Commons and I was trying to get TO on the phone, when suddenly, there he was next to us! A lucky break! And then the three of us walked on back to the boat. But we had no key, as it was with Toms DW, so instead we stopped in at the next door bar that we had inhabited on Friday, and collapsed into a table in the back. There we would refuel, drink beer, and saw our first TV, where we first saw the images that you are all familiar with.
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TO was closest to the finish, having finished only a minute or two before the bomb. So we got to hear his account. Otherwise we reacted basically the same as anyone else; What? Why? This is insane. Grief for the victims and their families. Deep sadness and depression. We shared our race details, but it was the opposite of a post-race party. They stole our celebration from us.

Eventually DW and Mrs TO arrived at the bar. They ended up walking over 5 miles to get there. Long hugs. More beer. The loop party was canceled, but at least we had each other. We ended up spending the rest of the night on the boat, reading internet updates since we had no TV.

I'm not going to editorialize about the killers or what this means to the marathon or anything. Plenty of others can do that. I'll just say that I'm not letting them ruin my Boston. I have my memories of the first three days, and I'm keeping them in a separate place from the ones after 2:50.

The next day we said goodbyes and headed to the airport. But first we managed a victorious Boston BP pic, and treated it as a giant F.U. to the bombers.


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