Boston Strong on Week Thirteen

This week I had promised a recap of my last days of work, my adventures in Wales, and a look into my summer plans. But the past 24 hours have been nothing but shock and terror from both of my homes, and that makes it difficult to think or write about anything else.

My time here in London is coming to an end. As things start dwindling down, conversations have tended to revolve around one of three things: our favorite abroad memories, post-semester plans… and how much we are all looking forward to going back to Boston.

This weekend in particular, all anyone could talk about was missing our favorite day of the year: Marathon Monday. There were talks of celebrating it from afar, or even using the London Marathon next week as a replacement. We woke up today wishing our runners luck and our friends safe (cause we all know what students do on Marathon Monday).

I was lying on my bed catching up on some TV when my phone vibrated. AP alert: “Two explosions at Boston Marathon finish line.” That’s it. That’s all it said. That’s all it needed to say to make my heart pound faster. I sat up, my mind racing. I opened Facebook and Twitter. I did a quick Google search to confirm, and then immediately posted a status and a tweet with the news, asking for friends to let me know whether they were okay, and if there was any more information.

Word hadn’t gotten out yet. No one knew what was going on. Then slowly, more tweets, more updates, more people started realizing what happened. I ran into the kitchen carrying my laptop. I was shaking. I told my friends in there what was going on. I could barely form the words. I ran down the hall and knocked on my friend’s door. He had no idea what was happening either. We all gathered in the kitchen, anxiously listening to BBC News, still not a clue what was happening.

I didn’t move for three hours. I spent the entire time tracking updates, tweeting them out and posting them on Facebook, and sending messages to everyone I knew back in Boston. Thankfully, my closest friends and everyone I reached out to were safe. I know others weren’t so lucky.

—-

It’s almost 3 in the morning in London. I’m still in shock at what has happened. I was already in a weak mindset after staying up until dawn last night awaiting news from the Venezuelan elections. I hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything else all day until my eyes fell on that AP alert. Now I feel trapped. My friends in Boston, my family in Venezuela, and I’m here so far away, so desperately helpless.

Right now, there are riots and protests in the streets of Venezuela. My cousins are out there banging their pots and pans, making as much noise as they can, creating as much chaos as possible to resist Maduro, to show support for Capriles, to demand a recount. I’m terrified for their safety.

Right now, there is silence in the streets of Boston. My friends are inside, unable to communicate, unable to comprehend, unable to do anything except wait. Try to find the sense, try to find the strength, try to remain calm as our shocked city comes to a halt. I’m terrified for their safety.

Boston is the first city I ever loved. It took leaving Miami to truly love Miami, but the second I set foot in Boston, I knew. This city means so much to me for reasons I won’t ever be able to put into words. Every time I come back from break, whether I’m taking a cab from Logan in the cold fading sunset or catching an early T to Comm Ave on a hazy morning, I’m overwhelmed with happiness. I am content. I am at peace. Whatever else is going on, as soon as I take a deep breath of that Boston air, things somehow seem okay.

Boston just feels like coming home.

And I’ve been missing it a lot lately, but never more than today. Marathon Monday is one of my favorite days of the year, and I’ve only ever really experienced it once. Because once is all it took. It had been a long road to Boston, and now that I was there it was more than I could ever have dreamed. And everything about that day just made me fall deeper in love. It is an epic, city-wide party. It is open and free and a refreshing break from reality. It is about support and camaraderie. It is love and sportsmanship and friendship. It is about taking care of each other when you stumble in the last mile (or in the last bar). It is a time to drink from dawn till dusk and be deliriously happy with everyone you love because somehow Boston just makes everything better.

In a way, this tragedy has proven tenfold what this day is about. What did we see today? Support. Camaraderie. Love. Sportsmanship. Friendship. Taking care of each other. Courage and sacrifice and compassion. I have never been more proud to call Boston my home. In such short a time, it has done so much for me. Times like these, I wish I was there to give back. But seeing my fellow students, seeing the BPD and emergency responders, seeing the volunteers and the runners, seeing an entire city roar to life in defense of itself and everything it stands for, how can anyone doubt us?

“Boston is a tough and resilient town, and so are its people.”

I love you, Boston. I’ll be home soon.

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