Suburban Snapshots

Boston After the Fact

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Steve and I moved out of Boston when after ten years there he grew tired of city living. It's fair to say he dragged me from our sweet condo on the C and D lines and away from many good friends, though I knew it was either fight to stay and live with an unhappy spouse, or move — knowing I'd adapt — with a happier husband.

Most of those we left behind live within the limits of last Friday's lockdown. Some had their homes searched, they woke to SWAT teams in the streets. They heard shots, shouts and detonations. They were afraid of the potential danger but grateful for the police presence. I spent Friday waiting for updates from those I knew were closest to what I could only watch on television. I texted without expecting replies and though I knew they would all be safe, sat anxiously waiting for contact. It seemed impossible that there could be anything else happening in the world, and when friends in other parts of the country posted about their lunches or their weekend plans, it all seemed so out of context.

Taken from my friends' window Friday morning.

When they captured the fugitive bomber and residents took to the streets to thank those involved, I remembered how, from my condo, I always knew when the home team scored because cheers would erupt out of windows and ricochet off the sidewalks. I imagined how joyful that noise must have been in the living room of the old place and wished I could have heard it.

Throughout the week, people who I have to assume were distant from the events took to public forums to promote their own agendas; one Arkansas lawmaker's notorious tweet is by now widely known and ridiculed, but there's also a conspiracy theory about martial law that's wrapped in a pro-gun message and fearmongering over the loss of our personal rights. Seriously.

I haven't asked my friends who were told to evacuate their own home, carrying two little girls over a fence in the hours after midnight how they feel about the theories because it's an insult to their experience. But if I had been in their shoes, if we lived within the lockdown zone on Friday, where a fugitive who'd proven his utter disregard for human life was known to be hiding, I'd feel a hell of a lot safer seeing trained, armed SWAT teams and police officers from my window than roving, gun-toting conspiracy theorists wandering my streets.

There are true professionals with skills and training and the courage to put themselves directly in the line of palpable danger, and there are those who speculate about conspiracies from the comfort of their desk chairs. If you're at all uncertain who would be more likely to step up and save your life at their own peril, go ahead and ask someone from Boston.

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