Today is Friday. I got up at 6 this morning to cycle down to Boylston Street to photograph the improvised memorial for Marathon victims, a trip I’d managed to postpone for three days, afraid of what I’d feel once I got there. Flowers and poems and marathon medals. A visual to accompany an explanation about why The Garum Factory isn’t running our usual format.
Instead, I learn that a young MIT policeman is dead, as is one of the bombing suspects, and the city is in lockdown while scores of police attempt to locate the second bomber.
By the time you read this, it may be all over. But regardless of where we are in this narrative, I’d like to devote a moment to its beginning, last Monday.
The marathon route runs straight down Beacon Street, a few blocks from our condo. At home shortly after the explosions, I received a panicky phone call from a Cape Cod friend down near the finish line asking if I’d seen her husband. I hadn’t, but we eventually discovered he was safe, part of the mass of runners stopped on Beacon Street at mile 24.5. Over the next few hours everyone–parents, kids, friends–gathered at our house. With their car trapped inside the security zone that had been established after the bombings everyone spent the night.
Arborio rice, leftover halibut, kale pesto, and a raft of asparagus and spring onions waiting to be grilled, went into an impromptu dinner. I have never been so grateful to have people around our table in my life.
Those who say that Boston values its civic virtues too strongly to let this tragedy permanently mar what is one of the great spectator amateur sporting events in the country have it right. I don’t see us evolving into a city where we have to remove our shoes and belts and empty our pockets to get within a block of the finish line. My favorite part of the Boston Marathon is watching the people who come down Beacon Street after the three-hour mark, many whom don’t look as if they could run out for milk let alone endure 26.2 miles. And watching those who cheer them on: You can do it! You’re almost there! Just a few more miles! Exhausted runners visibly perk up. We’re not going to let anyone take that away from us. Photos of spectators, first responders, other runners, rushing toward the finish line in spite of the explosion exemplify what this city and this event is about.
Next year people will be running, and celebrating afterward, their triumphs tempered, I believe, with a remembrance of those who ran and watched the year before them. (And we’ll be back with more food.) But for just this post, we want to acknowledge that at three dinner tables people will be confronting the painful absence of Krystal Campbell, Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu, and nothing that anyone cooks that day will make up for that.