The town Common is across the street from our school. The kids in town run and play before the race on this common. Runners stretch and make a pit stop at the port-a-potties that are brought in (and steal our parking spaces sometimes the week before school vacation).
The runners are released in waves, wheelchair racers, elite racers, "the common man" racers. I have been at the starting line to cheer racers. It's at least 15-20 minutes before all of "the common man" racers (who have been running the entire time) even cross the starting line.
One week ago I was blissfully enjoying a snorkel cruise from St. John's USVI to 4 islands around BVI. I was a little cranky about having to get up and get going by 6:30am on my vacation. I was nervous about my swimming ability and embarrassing myself in front of the other tourists. We met a couple from near my hometown and chatted about other vacations. One of the tour guides was from Wellfleet and we talked about the race. There was another couple who had gone to Harvard's School of Business. We chatted about seeing the results of the race. The tour finished a little before 3pm. We got out of Customs and headed to the car to see if we had any messages from family (no cell coverage on our trip). I glanced down and saw I had a text from an aunt back in ME. Our "baby" cousin at Tufts had told her there were explosions at the finish line. Our hope was a gas leak, but in our stomach we knew that it was probably something much darker.
We hopped in the car and tried to get info from people. Coverage is spotty in places on STJ- so many hills. We raced to the local grocery store because it always has on CNN and it was the closet place we could think to get news. As we got to the parking lot I was able to pull up some pictures on my phone. DH looked at the pics and told me that the time on the clock is the typical finish time for average runners, well past the elite. I had friends running. "Baby" cousin had a group from Tufts running.
I have never felt so helpless. Felt so guilty for being in paradise when friends who were running or at the finish line were scared, helpless themselves. I felt guilty for even thinking about myself at all. After agonizing hours, DH and I were able to locate everyone we were worried about. We were blessed. No one we know directly was physically harmed. My heart hurts for those not so lucky.
Today I go back to school. Back to the Starting Line where the possibilities, excitement, and energy is endless, now somehow tainted. I am excited to see my students & nervous to talk with them. We teachers, parents, caring adults, have had to have too many conversations these last 12 years like the ones I will have today. The reassurances that they are safe. Conversations where I watch 5 year-old babies age in front of me, not because they are learning about the awesomeness of the world, but because they are learning that monsters are real.
At 2:50pm today my thoughts will be with everyone who suffered & continues to suffer from last week's bombings. My "Linus blanket" I will carry with me today and in the future is how the first responders (way to go Jim Plourde, fellow Colonie High alum!), the runners from out of town, and ordinary citizens rallied around each other. How folks did what was needed to be done to help strangers and how the city shutdown to end this terror. Although I was shaken by the events of last week, I have a renewed faith in the goodness of people. I'm a New Yorker by birth, but I am Boston Strong!