Over the past few hours, Boston has been on a broken roller-coaster. What was a terrorist bombing Monday became yesterday’s stories of loss, condition, and compassion. Yet this afternoon reminded us here that despite the world’s sentimentalism and exhaustion, the ride is still going bat-shit crazy and we’re all still aboard. The headlines and stories were dropping one after another: suspect in custody; poisoned letter sent to White House; bomb threat; courthouse evacuation; abandoned car; hospital evacuation; suspect not in custody; fire on subway tracks; suspicious package tossed onto the Red Line. The threat hasn’t stopped. The media is waving speculation as though taunting starving dogs with a bone; if they calmed the fuck down that would be their greatest contribution right now.
People on the ground have to go on. Today while driving downtown, police stalked every corner and bag inspection tents were set up outside of venues, but if you only saw the people it would feel like nothing happened. Life goes on. Help or be on your way. The many creative ways this city has reached out to support its own have been refreshing and healing. All the offerings of food, shelter, blood, solace, employment, prayers, and hugs have become fluent throughout the area’s social landscape. But this scenario is too familiar for me to hope for any lasting positive change to blossom. We are always our best when we have no choice. It is in our DNA to work together to survive, and we do so in beautiful ways.
What has been plaguing my mind since this happened is what will materialize when the shock wears off. What will we become as the pain sinks in? Or in those moments when we once again feel alone in our suffering? When we have no answers? When no one is watching? Will we digest our rage and fear so it is metabolized into something useful, or will we implode? Will familiar faces become suspect? Will we continue to stand so united when the day-to-day returns, or will we feed on one another’s differences?
Lovely, gracious, powerful. Such aspects of humanity can arise from these situations – but it does make for one steep, dark descent if we fall. I want to believe we are stronger than that. People around the country are already unraveling on one another over this, but Bostonians do not share their convenience of distance and for now they are sticking together. If this is what defines being ‘Boston strong’, then let it be a permanent lesson to all of us in what we will become rather than some moment of ephemeral tenderness from who we once were.