I finally stopped reading at about 10:30am. It’d been 4 hours since I had rolled out of bed, turned on my phone and seen the headlines flashing across my screen. From the moment that I arrived at the office I had been scrolling through websites and watching video clips, and my boss was very obviously leaving me alone as I did it, allowing me to neglect my work. More than a few of my Chinese colleagues were noticing my face as I tried to stay composed while watching the horrific images. I was only partially successful.
My scouring social media for any and all information that I could find was not unlike people back in Boston, I imagine. The last time that I felt anything like this was on 9/11. Back then I knew only a few people in New York, including my best friend who lived just a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Those days were wrenching as I waited for word from each of them that they were safe. This morning was a lot like that, times 100.
Today I’m sitting in a virtual corner, all alone in my Chinese office. I’m surrounded by nice people (very nice people, I fact), but they don’t get it. They can’t get it. None of them are from Boston. Hell, none of them are even Americans. The few quiet words that they offered when I first arrived were nice, but they barely helped. Not since my first days after moving here, when I didn't know anybody in this huge megacity, have I ever felt so isolated.
What I really want are some Bostonians to commiserate with, to hug. I almost walked out of the house today wearing my Red Sox cap, my Bruins t-shirt and my Patriots pullover. (I settled on just the Sox cap.) I want to eat Boston Cream Pie until I puke. I want to get drunk on Sam Adams. I want enough Dunkin Donuts coffee to keep me awake for 3 days.
I am overcompensating.
I know that today, in the shock of it all, I’m just reaching for familiar, comfortable things. I know that as much as I want to teleport myself back to Boston to be with my friends back home this evening, within a day or two I’d be longing for Beijing again. Boston isn’t my home anymore. But it’s where I came from. It’s the place that made me me. And some lunatic has taken a shot at her, violating the spaces that I grew up in and putting people that I care about very deeply in danger. I’m pissed, sad, scared and homesick all at the same time.
There’s nothing quite like Patriot’s Day in Boston. It’s always been one of my 4 favorite days of the year (the others being St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day, the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve). It’s like the official coming of spring. I used to always go to the Red Sox game and then head over to Kenmore Square to cheer on the runners for a couple of hours. I love the history of the holiday, the joyful spirit of the crowd and the moving examples of human achievement all rolled up into one amazing day. To have had such a day marred by such a despicable attack makes it even more tragic.
NBC News tried to give their viewers a sense of what Patriot’s Day means to Boston during their coverage last night. It’s worth it to watch if you haven’t already seen it:
I think that I’ll go get drunk on Sam Adams now.