I’ve been stuck in bed for a few days now with the flu. It’s actually sort of fitting for me to write this portion of the series in my current state of delirium…
I had slept like shit since the bombing. My area of JP is pretty noisy, especially with a police station right around the corner. The old sounds of passing cars, loud bangs, and the occasional siren never really bothered me until then. Before I never really cared about who or what was causing those noises, but now, any sort of loud noise would make my heart jump into my throat.
I think it was somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning when I felt my phone buzz by my head. It was my friend Ramzi in San Jose asking me if I was ok and telling me to stay in my apartment. I assured him I was fine and went into my living room to turn on my television. Sure enough, something was up.
I ran and got my MacBook to hop onto Facebook and Twitter to see if there were any updates about what was happening. I saw my friend Tim had been following what had been happening for a couple hours by then. He updated me on what I had missed and then I settled in for what would be the longest 24 hours of my life.
My roommates woke up a couple hours later to find me in the living room with my iPad on Twitter, MacBook on Facebook and other news sites, and flicking between national and local news stations. People were slowly waking up across the country, and I knew they’d be pretty shocked at what they’d be waking up to.
It just did not seem like real life. What transpired that day is what Hollywood movies are made of. Car chases, gunfire, a manhunt. This isn’t what happens in real life. Except here it was – unfolding right before our eyes.
First, the city of Boston and some surrounding areas were asked to stay indoors. Businesses were closed. No MBTA service.
A few hours later, the screen looked a bit different.
This is getting hard for me to describe in a narrative what I was thinking/feeling/experiencing, so I’m going to try to boil it down to a few bullet points:
- The virality of false information was astounding. Especially the garbage that was coming from the major networks (lookin’ at you, CNN). I ended up watching local news stations for the majority of this coverage, and I typically never watch local news. I find it hokey and annoying. However, the local stations in Boston did a really phenomenal job.
- Access to information was even more astounding. It blew my mind that I could just listen to the police scanner as this whole thing was going down. That I could see images of SWAT teams crawling around people’s backyards. It was probably the most fascinating thing I ever experienced.
- This totally and utterly consumed me. At any given moment, I was listening to the police scanner, watching 1-2 different TV stations, trolling several social media sites, and trying to boil down what I was seeing into my own posts (I only posted things that I had vetted through a couple different trusted sources). I almost feel ashamed to admit it now, but it was a huge high. I had news stations in Rochester following my posts, friends from across the country told me I was their trusted news source. It was incredibly thrilling, but totally unhealthy. I barely ate or drank anything. I didn’t sleep for nearly 24 hours. I was crippled by what was happening – and I wasn’t even all that close to it. I created a cocoon where I was really IN it, but I actually wasn’t. Knowing me, there wasn’t any other way I could have possibly spent that day. But looking back, it was pretty nuts.
- I was scared. Once they shut down the city, I knew that this would have to come to some kind of closure. It just had to. But this is also why I felt so shocked when they lifted the closure of the city before anything had been resolved.
I couldn’t believe it when Menino and the Police Commissioner told us to go about our lives as if nothing happened. I was furious that all of this was for nothing. So I took a shower, got dressed, and was about to turn off the TV to head to the bar when I heard it – “GUN SHOTS FIRED IN WATERTOWN.”
And so I sat down, cracked open a Blue Light, and watched the rest unfold.
There he was – a very young man, blood soaked, exhausted, scared, being attacked with smoke bombs and gunfire. They pulled him out of the boat, dragged him to the ground, and cuffed him. This was the person who brought an entire city to its knees. It is pretty scary to think about that.
I started crying when it was over. I was listening to the jubilant voices over the police scanners – the people who talked me through that entire ordeal. I felt as if I were celebrating with them. (And I did have a little celebration – I definitely needed a beer after all this).
I was finally able to drag myself away from my living room – nearly 20 hours later – to grab a sandwich at the shop around the corner next to the police station. As I was walking home, the policemen were returning to the station. I stopped and thanked them with tears in my eyes, went home to eat my sandwich, and for the first time in a week, went to sleep feeling safe.