So, yeah, Boston. Jeez. Wow.
It’s hard for me to write about this stuff. I wrote about the shooting in Aurora, and that was difficult. Which is why I didn’t write about the shooting in Connecticut. I feel like at some point it becomes repetitive. As heartbreaking as these things always are, my talking about my little feelings can and does get old. It’s a downer. But I’m still going to talk about it.
We’re always sad.
We’re always confused.
We despair, as a group.
That sense of “Oh, holy shit. How should I feel? What should I do?” is overwhelming when these events happen. And yeah, I know that in other parts of the world things like this are everyday occurrences, par for the course. Some people, unfortunately, have had to learn to just flinch and count the dead and go on with their day. That’s sad and horrifying and shouldn’t be the case, obviously. I am aware that, relatively speaking, what happened at the Boston Marathon is small potatoes, but that doesn’t diminish it. Not for me. Those involved or affected are still involved or affected. People still lost limbs and lives and loved ones and no amount of math or relativism will change that.
So. Moving on.
Interestingly, this is the first of these sorts of tragedies that I’ve watched unfold online. Usually I read about them later, after it’s all over. I don’t have tv, so I didn’t see it on the news. The first I heard was someone on Twitter telling Amanda Palmer to turn on CNN. Palmer’s from Boston and was in the city at the time (her blog piece about it is really great). And then I just watched the Twitter feed roll for the next few hours. It was pretty fascinating. The outpouring of love and condolences, mixed with people on the scene or nearby offering help, shelter, and information. The misinformation and bad reporting from actual news sources. The scammy motherfuckers who, only minutes after the bombs went off, set up fake organizations claiming to be accepting donations.
I like to think that I have a pretty tough shell, a reasonably thick skin. But through it all I felt horrible. I wanted to help somehow and couldn’t, which made me even sadder, feeling so impotent and ineffective. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug my mom. I wanted to be in a room with people who love me and just sit and be alive and safe and sad and loved, together.
But I was alone. Me and my computer. And a few million people on Twitter. I got to thinking about how many historic tragedies I’ve seen. Columbine, Waco, two Middle East invasions, Aurora, Oklahoma City, 9/11. These are the things that have shaped our generation (or will, eventually), like the Kennedy assassination or the Vietnam war shaped our parents’, and World War II our grandparents’. And on and on, all the way back. The people of Boston celebrate Patriots’ Day every year with Revolutionary War reenactments, a Red Sox game, and the Marathon. That juxtaposition is interesting. Different types of struggle. Different measures of accomplishment. We seem to be bound together by tragedy and misery more than we are by joyful festivities. By “observing,””honoring,” or “paying tribute,” more than “celebrating.” But I guess it’s all just commemoration, of a sort, no matter what word you use.
We get through these shitty things, though. Some of us more quickly and easily than others. Maybe it’s that getting through that really binds us. Shared experience. We all have those moments when we look at each other and know that things will never be the same. And maybe this isn’t one of them, in the long run or in the bigger picture. It’s amazing what we can get used to. How adaptable we are. How horror can become so commonplace. But I like to think that coming together, supporting each other and showing love, that those become commonplace as well, by extension. The good outweighs the bad, then, doesn’t it?
And I know that those candlelight vigil kind of moments can seem cheesy or overblown, but they can be precious and powerful, as well. It says something about us as a group that we do those things. They’re deeply, purely, human responses to inhumane acts and they’re more than empty gestures. Solidarity is important. There really is strength in numbers. If we make it our mission in life to truly support and protect and love each other, ferociously and unconditionally, then the bad stuff can’t crush us. If we know that someone will always be there with a prayer or a hug or a pint of blood, we know we can get through. We know that we are never truly alone.
Anyway. All my love to Boston. All my love to anyone who was hurt or sad or scared, or even just sitting alone and crying. We’re all spinning on this rock together. Let’s make the best of it.