On Monday, In Boston

Everyone felt the same sadness and horror on Marathon Monday. But it's different when you're from there.
Share |

I drove over the starting line of the Boston Marathon nearly every day for four years in high school, once on the 30 minute drive from my home to the little private school a few towns away, and then again on the way back. Each morning and afternoon I drove along the pastoral opening stretch of the marathon. I knew it was spring when the new starting line showed up, that Opening Day and April vacation were coming, that flowers would come up and that baseball season would soon begin for real—no more playing catch and fielding ground balls inside a gym. I knew that on Patriots Day I would have to find an alternate route to and from baseball practice.

Everyone out there knows this, because for 117 years the Boston Marathon took over the lives of everyone from Hopkinton to Boston on Patriots' Day. I knew it myself because the marathon was one of those sporting events, like the Olympics, that my grandmother loves. She loves the atmosphere, the openness of the event. The Boston marathon is, or was, one of the last truly open sporting events. After the events that happened yesterday, that will probably change.

***

I grew up a few miles from the starting line of the Boston Marathon, but I can't remember ever going to see the start of the race save one time with my grandmother. This was 17 years ago, when the marathon turned 100. I remember my grandmother explaining the significance to my two brothers and me, that we were there because this was important—important for Massachusetts, and especially for this part of the state, but also because of what it meant to all the people around us there at the start.

The starting point in Hopkinton looks more like an outdoor concert than a race. It's awash in people, with port-a-potties and lawn chairs strewn about and a blanket of buzzing noise over the whole thing. Runners congregate on the tiny square waiting their turn, stretching. Bystanders set up chairs and get watching spots hours before, around dawn or even before. Roads to and from the race are closed. Unless someone sets up camp, it's a long walk to the starting point. Runners begin lining up early; the crowd of them seems to go on forever, a sea of neon colors, short-shorts and funny looking hats with brims flipped up. Even at the start, nothing more than a metal barricade that could easily be pushed a side separates some of the world's elite athletes—those in the first packs—from revelers celebrating what feels like a national holiday. The ultra-focused Olympians, made superhuman by their discipline, were right there, right next to the rest of us.

Patriots' Day is, for non-marathoners, a celebration of discipline's purest, goofiest opposite. It's the final day of a long weekend and most people have the day off from work or school; the Red Sox start playing at 11, and people begin partying earlier than that. The celebrations are prosaic: spending time with friends and family, grilling food outside and doing nothing in particular. It is like the Fourth of July except it's not too hot and there is no waiting in endless traffic to get to and from Cape Cod. That, and the crucial difference that Patriots' Day's singular ritual is to stand outside and yell encouragement at people you don't know as they rush past. Patriots' Day is a celebration of Massachusetts history—there's a lot, of course, which you and every schoolkid knows—but also of the present, of the fact that Boston can still be the reason why tens of thousands of people show up in the morning, in Hopkinton, every year.

Boston is not only the state's capital, but it’s also the emotional capital—where the sports teams are and the source of a real local pride even for non-Bostonians. But the Boston Marathon includes more cities and towns than just Boston. It includes the towns on the way in, and the cities and towns (and states, and nations) that the runners come from. For all the history and the thousands of little overlapping dramas, despite the qualifying bar that limits the race to serious runners, the Boston Marathon is a race for everyone. It's a party anyone can join, and one that most people do.

***

It's also a drama that allows spectators to imagine themselves into any number of roles. Some dream of winning it, or just of running it; I dreamed of covering runners collapsing on Heartbreak Hill, reporting on the lead pack from the back of a truck, of finding some of the unique stories inside this 26.2-mile-long narrative. I had never hoped, or even bothered to fear, that I would end up chasing down stories from my home-office on marathon day because of some tragic event. I couldn't have dreamt it, and I wouldn't have.

And yet I did, because it happened and because it's my job, and because the horror superseded my day's assignment, which was taking pictures of famous people shooting a movie in Worcester. I thought, as I went about working the phone and running down this nightmare, of the days I spent driving that first stretch of the marathon. I thought of how I associated the race with my grandmother, and of my grandmother, and of all the intersecting affections between she and I and the race and our home. I thought of everyone watching, together; I thought of the small heroes running the race for one cause or another, whether it be research towards a cure for cancer, juvenile diabetes, AIDS, or to raise money for a best friend suffering from one of those. It made me wonder if this day will ever be the same. I thought of history and the future, how we'll remember it and what we'll celebrate—people helping, people trying, people going on. It's a lot to hold in mind, all that horror and hope. Marathon Monday has always been more than a day, has always contained multitudes. It all suddenly feels like too much.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Pinswept.


Share |

Comments

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Skin tags during pregnancy

Bangalore Escorts Services Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here!

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics.
http://showboxzone.com

Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog.
valentines day dinner ideas

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics.
Valentines day gift ideas 2017

saint patricks day facts
I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

best money lender singapore | Singapore Best Money Lender I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. Singapore Licensed Money Lender | Moneylender Open on Sunday

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site.
this content

Singapore Business Directory We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find Singapore Best Money Lender a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work. Singapore Best Money Lender

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site.
Leaning tower of pisa

I enjoyed reading your post and found it to be informative and to the topic. Thank you for not rambling on and on just to fill the page. Thanks..
cheap seo packages australia

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Flea Bites Images

A simple bookmarking tool that makes it easy to save, organize and share your favorite web pages. Access your bookmarks from any computer, phone or tablet. Listango works on all modern web browsers…
voyance amour gratuite

free credit score government I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

Best Moneylender Singapore We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work.

acim Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and new initiatives in the same niche. Blog gave us useful information to work. You have done an amazing job!

News Bucket We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work.

cheap web hosting I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

Absolutely fantastic posting! Lots of useful information and inspiration, both of which we all need!Relay appreciate your work. Are really brilliant! Dofollow Blog Comments

Money Lender Open on Sunday We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work. Best Moneylender Tuas

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. life education

Best Money Lender Braddell | Best Money Lender Khatib I just got to this amazing site not long ago. I was actually captured with the piece of resources you have got here. Big thumbs up for making such wonderful blog page! Best Moneylender Paya Lebar | Best Money Lender Novena

Best Money Lender Braddell We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find Best Money Lender Jurong a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work. Best Money Lender Choa Chu Kang

I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. express vpn crack

Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. 100% Manually, So your site is safe you can get all HQ links, that definitely increase your SERPs. 20 High Quality Backlinks gig Only for fiverr members just for 5$ WOww...high trust flow backlinks

seo I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good. visit this site hurry up waiting your order low obl unique domain Thanks alot! dofollow blog comments

I might need to thank you for the tries you had made for making this magnificent article Absolutely incredible posting ! click here

I need to draw in that you proceed with your brain boggling posts, have a broadly engaging weekend ! my singing monsters hack tool

Furthermore this is a particularly fortifying site.I really favored the content style you've used as a piece of this article.Acheter Meilleur Tracker d activite

I won't reevaluate to ensure your webpage segment to any person who needs and needs fortify about this area. klusgekte.nl

By uprightness of you for sharing this post. A commitment of gratefulness is all together for a to an awesome degree intriguing web journal. Texas vodka

Great information ! I starting late kept running at the end of the day your site and have been taking a gander at along. free xbox live codes

I was truly gotten with the bit of advantages you have here. Immense thumbs up for making such splendid site page ! Choisir Pese personne numerique

Very nice article, I enjoyed reading your post, very nice share, I want to twit this to my followers. Thanks!.
video editing