Never again, when someone asks where I am from, will I have to respond "just outside of Boston". Now I can just say "a few blocks from THE boat in Watertown, MA."
Last week left me and John feeling very lucky. While we got to experience a stressful day of lockdown at the end of the week, we were nowhere near the marathon on Monday, and on the far side of the river from all the action in Watertown on Friday. And this was the message that I attempted to send to far distant friends and family throughout the drama all week. At times, it felt wrong to post messages on FB or twitter, that we were safe and sound, while so many others were not. But our families needed to see these messages from us. And it turns out social media is actually a good way to broadcast a message like that to a far distant audience. I admit to being quite relieved to see the check-ins from various friends that I knew were doing the marathon on Monday. But I was still heartbroken to hear of the deaths of people I did not know, but who's stories I will not forget. And I was devastated by the news of all the severe injuries, including so many leg amputations, a most cruel attack on fans of running!
Like so many other folks, my response to all this is not to hide away in fear, but to seize the day. Like most of the other residents of my town and neighboring towns, I "sheltered in place", not out of fear, but to stay out of the way, and not cause any additional hassle to an already over-stressed police department and other public safety officials. It was a glorious day, warm and sunny. I had planned a short ride for the morning, since I had so much to do to prepare for our vacation that was scheduled to start at EOD Friday. I needed to get the bike rack back on the car, and load up tandem and single bikes. I needed to get clothes and such packed, print out maps, do more route research, do laundry and a bit of shopping, etc.
But we awoke Friday morning to find text messages, emails and FB messages from various friends, alerting us to stay inside, keep the doors locked and check the news. We are used to hearing helicopters. We live near a major commuter highway. We are used to sirens from the highway and nearby hospitals. But the sounds we could hear in the distance were not the normal ones, and soon we knew why.
"An abundance of caution" was the phrase used, asking people outside the immediate search area, to stay in place. (Those in the thick of it likely didn't need to be told!) The entire public transit system was shut down. The governor asked schools and businesses in Watertown and surrounding towns to stay closed. Taxi service was suspended for a while - presumably all this was to eliminate means of escape for the wounded suspect, who had crashed and abandoned his stolen car. Amazingly the airport was open. Not that I thought there was any chance that the suspect would be impacted by closing the airport, but how was anyone supposed to get there? Or get home?
Our street was eerily quiet. Some likened it to a blizzard, except in a blizzard, we go outside and shovel and build snowmen and play and help our neighbors with their shoveling. And we get warning, so we have an abundance of bread and milk in the house.
Like many I could not turn the news off. I tried, but then I'd get another email, or hear more noises, and I'd turn the radio back on. I had many rainy day things to do at home, but I couldn't concentrate. I have a backlog of posts to do on the blog, but made no progress. I need to work on the fleche route and have another permanent route I'm working on - no progress. I have bikes in need of maintenance.
All I could think about were my neighbors across town, and hoping that this would all come to a peaceful end soon. I wanted to open the door and let the warm fresh spring air in. I wanted to go for a bike ride. And I wanted the world not to be filled with misguided angry people.
Today, things are calm back home in Watertown. We packed up Saturday morning and have been enjoying some lovely cycling in the Catskills this week, and I promise to post pix and stories soon.
This is not a political blog, and I'm not going to make it one. But I will repeat something I said last summer. Bad stuff happens to random people at random times. I will not live my life in fear. Instead, I make every effort to live in the moment and appreciate exactly what is happening at the time.
And one of the best ways I can appreciate each moment is on my bike, breathing hard as I climb a steep grade, or enjoying a beautiful mountain vista, or gliding down some twisty descent. And this week, that experience has been a bit more poignant.