Most Fridays, I join James on his commute into the city, and if the weather is nice, I take the T to Copley Square to work out of the beautiful public library. Sometimes, in the summertime and in early autumn, I bring a big bag to fill up on vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s market just across the street. I used to work in a building one block away.
Copley Square is, to me, the heart of Boston. As we watched the news loop the footage of the explosions over and over from our hotel room in Portland on Monday, it felt surreal to see Copley filled with smoke and a flurry of panic, splattered with blood. Even now, more than 24 hours later, my brain has difficulty reconciling this familiar place with this terrible act.
Back in 2006, I was preparing for a trip to London when I heard the news that two explosions had gone off there. One was on a bus, detonated immediately across the square from the apartment my beloved professor, Ruth, and her husband lived in, in Bloomsbury. When I arrived there, windows were blown out of the building that was nearest to the explosion. Flowers were scattered about with notes attached to them. The city was running in full again, but it felt different — on edge, tense, despite the warmth of summer.
It felt that way when we touched down at Logan airport yesterday. There were police officers all over the airport, cop cars lined up along the Charles River and throughout Kendall Square. We turned on the radio, scanned the stations, and heard the words “tragedy,” “bomb,” and “terrifying” so many times that we eventually turned it off. As we drove through the tunnels that connect the airport to the city we hit traffic, and for the first time ever, I felt panic creep in until we were mercifully released back into the sunshine washing over Storrow Drive.
For everyone who calls Boston home, there is now the eerie feeling of violation and uncertainty. Those who were gruesomely injured, their loved ones, and the loved ones of those killed (I cry every time I think of that little boy), have to deal with the coupling of these uncomfortable feelings and a new, more difficult life. But this is a city of big hearted, tough people, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Boston will rise from this stronger than before. As Jim Walsh of Boston’s public radio station explains, “Boston is not the biggest city in America; it is not the most politically powerful. But it has an inner determination and power that only the foolish ignore.”
This is our home.