Most of you, regardless of whether you live in the states, have probably heard about the bombings that occurred at the Boston Marathon today, which killed three people, and injured more than a hundred others, some of them critically. Those who were there describe a horrific scene of smoke and screaming and severed limbs.
I had been out to lunch – literally – when it happened. I was catching up with a friend. She filled me in on all the happenings in her life and her family, and she let me devote waay too much of our conversation to all sorts of things that were weighing on me. It was a good talk, and a reminder that I need to spend more time with the people I love.
As I drove home, I heard the news report on the radio, and when I got back to our place I ran to my computer to begin that desperate search for facts that follows any disaster.
I’m an organizer. When I’m upset by things I can’t control, my first reaction is to put everything in order. I’ll clean house and straighten my closet and sort my mail. It can border on hysteria. Upon hearing the news of the bombings, the desire to put everything in its place was so strong, I was half-inclined to ask Rand to come home. So I could put him safely away on his side of the bed.
Obviously, I didn’t do that. I knew his reaction would be to gently tell me to tone down the crazy. Instead, I sent him a quick text, making sure that everyone we knew in Boston was safe, putting them, so to speak, in order. I checked Facebook, noting all the friends of friends who were accounted for. I scoured the news, and twitter, until it became apparent that there were no new facts to emerge. Not feeling inclined to engage in the morose act of watching the casualty count go up, I closed my browser windows and stared blankly at my screen, unsure of what to do.
The two posts I was in the middle of writing seemed irrelevant at best, insignificant and self-indulgent at worst. I felt a quiet panic building in my chest. I eventually decided (after thoroughly cleaning my kitchen and making a mental checklist of clothes I needed to send to Goodwill) to go to a workout class in a vain attempt to calm down.
I listened to Top 40 hits while an instructor patiently explained that I was doing most things wrong, and thought about the last time I was in Boston. It was November, and we stopped there briefly on our way back from Portsmouth. But that was enough time to have cake, and eat soup dumplings, and walk around the Commons in the sunshine.
After my class ended, I thanked the instructor (sincerely) and walked back home. Within a few moments of me getting back, Rand returned from work. We talked a little bit about what happened. I was emotional. He was calm.
Later, without provocation, without knowing about my earlier inclination to call him, Rand went to our room and did something he never does in the afternoon: he laid down on his side of the bed for a long while.
Cities everywhere are on high alert, and the world feels like a mess, but stories of tenderness and selflessness are emerging. Boston residents are offering their homes to anyone displaced by the bombings. While people were running away from the blasts, others were running towards them, to help.
As Patton Oswalt put it (because in times of ludicrous tragedy it seems that comedians – those who spend their lives discussing the absurd -are the only ones who can make sense of what is going on):
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
I take a deep breath and try to calm down. I tell myself that Boston – hell, that all of us – will be okay. And I realize how stupidly, ridiculously, undeservedly lucky I am that everything in my home and life – right down to my husband – is where it should be.