I typically try to get this year in review business done by the time the new year happens but every time I went in to write about this month I just couldn’t do it. I’d find excuses to not think about it and move onto other things. But now that I’m stuck in the laundromat for the next 90 minutes or so I don’t really have any excuses.
To put it lightly, April was a fucking roller coaster. I’ve never felt such extreme degrees of emotion – from fear, to sadness, to anger, to love.
The month of April (and the months following) have largely been defined by what happened on Marathon Monday.
It started out like a really beautiful day. I went down to the finish line with a few friends to see the winners crossing the finish line. It was really incredible – I had never seen anything like it before. People lining the streets from all over the world cheering on perfect strangers as they pushed their mind and bodies to their absolute limits.
As my friends and I were leaving to meet our friend at a party in Brookline, I looked back at the race in awe and said something along the lines of “This is when you truly get to see the tenacity of the human spirit.”
Little did I know how true that would turn out to be.
After spending a good part of the morning at the finish line, we made our way out to Brookline (which ended up being a total pain in the ass thanks to the marathon). I was pretty miserable by the time we got out there from not eating in a while, so we stopped and grabbed a beer and some pizza at Otto’s. After that, it was time to go party with friends.
This was my first real marathon experience. It is a huge celebration – people are everywhere along the parade route, grilling out in their yards, and just enjoying the excitement.
My friend Caitlin and I were in a tight game of beer pong when I started receiving a couple text messages from people in other parts of the country asking me if I was ok. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, but they said that something had happened at the finish line and that the last photo they saw of me online was of me being there. I assured them that I was fine and then hopped onto Twitter where I saw what had happened.
There was a bunch of us outside drinking and grilling and I yelled for everyone to stop and pay attention – something terrible had happened at the marathon. There was an explosion. They didn’t believe me at first because there had been a “Back Bay Explosion” a year prior where there was an electrical issue that shut down that area for a couple days. With the blood draining out of my face, I said no, I don’t think it’s like that. We need to get inside and turn on the TV.
When I walked into the room a bunch of the party was already sitting there in silence. Then the footage showed up on the screen – a bright orange burst tearing through the crowd followed by a plume of smoke further down the route. I put my head in my hands and slunk to the floor – completely out of breath. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It simply could not have been true. I had just been down there only hours before – this wasn’t supposed to happen. Not here. Not today.
I tried to go outside and call my parents but couldn’t get anything through. Thankfully I was able to get a text message out to them to let them know I was ok. I knew that they must have known what was happening by then and wanted them to know that I was safe. I also updated my Facebook status to let people know I wasn’t at the finish line any longer and to not worry about me, but to send your thoughts to Boston.
The next few hours were filled with confusion and fear. There were reports of bombs all over the city – it was chaos. All transit was shut down. Thankfully my friend Abby lived near where we were so we went and camped out at her place and turned on the TV.
Our next major concern was making sure that the staff and corps of City Year were all accounted for. I got on the phone with several members of senior leadership to find out how the count was going – at one point I was on the phone with CEO Michael Brown. It was a conversation I never expected to have. Thankfully we were able to account for everyone and I was able to post that we were all safe.
When I got home that night, hours later, I still couldn’t believe what had happened. I felt numb inside. Violated. Scared. Angry. Confused.
And thus begun one of the most eerie, crazy weeks of my life.
…to be continued.