That was my post to Facebook the day after the marathon bombings. A week ago today.
Seven years ago today I landed in London the morning of the London Marathon. About to start what would be an incredible 3 year journey. A journey that started on a day when, just like last week, thousands of runners laced up their shoes for a 26.2 mile journey with spectators of their friends and family all along the way.
As I continue to try to make sense of the awful events of last week, and continue to go through all sorts of emotions, it felt like today was as good a day as any to try to write about what’s been going on with me throughout all of this. I haven’t known how to really do that in a way that is respectful. So I’m going to wrap it all up in my feelings about this city.
Like my status update said, I really didn’t think this was where I was supposed to be when I moved back four years ago. I had quit my job of 6+ years, moved back in with roommates, and was starting school after a six year absence. And I had moved back to Boston. To put it simply, I was confused, sad, and probably a little depressed.
I had thought moving to a different country would be hard and I had done a lot to prepare myself for that. I had done pretty much nothing to prepare for coming back home. I felt like I had to defend my decision to everyone, but no one more than to myself. And I was constantly comparing everything in Boston to London. I would whine that everything and everyone was the same in Boston. That nothing had changed since college. That there was nothing to do. That there was no where to go. I couldn’t get myself out of that self-indulgent rut.
Slowly, but surely, though, and through a lot of writing (and let’s be honest, some therapy), I finally got myself to approach Boston as I had London. I made myself explore new areas, museums, shows, restaurants, meet new people, and take some risks. And of course, I tried to write about it. And slowly, but surely, I remembered what I loved about this city. And I discovered new things that I loved about this city.
But the story wasn’t entirely over. When I finished my grad program, I naturally assumed I would move on. I never thought I’d stay here. I applied to jobs in NYC, DC, Chicago, etc. But very few here. Because why would I stay? I was/am single, don’t own anything (anymore), I could still come back to see family and friends. So why stay? Wasn’t I supposed to try for a new adventure?
And then before I knew it, a fantastic job opportunity kept me here. And then I was moving to Cambridge. And then I was falling in love with a new part of the city. And then I was meeting more amazing people and seeing more areas of the city that I had never known existed. And then I was coming back from my parent’s house in December and realizing that this was HOME. And I just knew, this was the right place for me. And hey, maybe I would date a bit again while I was at it!
And then last Monday happened. We’ll all have memories of where we were when we heard the news. Of the texts and emails and calls we made to make sure our loved ones were safe. I was at work alone in my office in Cambridge when I found out. After sitting at my desk for over an hour just sifting through social media and news while tears streamed down my face, I walked the 10 min walk to my apartment where thankfully my roommate was home and we just kept each other company. Tearful phone calls with friends and family followed.
As I went into to my room to change my clothes I pulled out my NYC Marathon shirt from Fred’s Team without even realizing it. As I looked down at the shirt all of the tears started coming again. As with dating, running is another subject that has taken over this blog in the past, as in 2011 I ran the NYC Marathon. And running has become, while at times not the easiest thing for me to do, a constant in my life and vital to my physical and mental well-being.
I don’t think I will ever forget the relief and gratitude I felt when I saw my friends and family about a mile from the finish line on that Fall day in Central Park. This picture probably helps explain the feelings slightly!
I’ve heard many say marathon training can be a rather selfish activity. The time and energy it consumes is incredible. So it is with opposite and complete selflessness that our family and friends come to watch us do this crazy thing. [My favorite marathon sign ever is “26 miles makes sense but 26.2 is just crazy!”] And it is those selfless people that were directly in harms way last Monday. It is still unthinkable and devastating.
I remember after I ran New York people asking if i would run Boston. My immediate response was always “no.” And then, “People who train for Boston are just so dedicated. Especially if they are training in the winter in New England. No thank you. Boston is for real runners.”
I still don’t think I have a Boston marathon in me. I think one 26.2 mile run was probably enough for me and my body. But what I do know is that for now, this is home. This is where I’m meant to be. And after that lockdown was over, nothing made me happier than spending the weekend out in the city, with old familiar faces, laughing, healing, sharing stories, and feeling #bostonstrong.