Why does this have to be the new normal? Why did any bombs ever go off in the first place, any bomb, anywhere. I mean what does all of it say about human nature and the need for attention. Someone with something to say feels the need to say it like this? It makes no sense to me how and why that’s reasonable. But then again, for as self-proclaimed crazy as I am I’m not mentally unstable enough to ever understand the motivations of evil. I just don’t get maliciousness, something designed to do nothing more than hurt. Be that hurt physical or mental.
And I don’t live in Boston anymore but today I hurt in both ways as if I had been standing right there. Because I HAD been standing right there about a billion times in my life. Parking close by to go to the ice cream truck what feels like 50 years ago. Walking up to Tower Records the back way because Newbury was always so packed. Watching my cousin cross the finish line in his running of the Boston Marathon when I was a kid. And who knows what else. I probably have photos taken right there during a day I was skipping school and needed to get the hell out of Arlington.
So right now my head and heart ache like I’m still living there. I haven’t felt this kind of world-weighted sadness in a long time. You all know the last time it was like this. We all felt it when all at once our country had a shock wave cross it like none before.
I understand that there are people in this world who live with the reality of this kind of experience on an almost daily basis. I also understand that some people think because of that it’s tough to justify being so sad and shocked by these events in Boston but let me just say this. I don’t live in those other countries. I live here in the United States and for the first twenty-eight years of my life I was completely sheltered from any thought of living in that type of environment.
War? The last war I remember hearing about was Vietnam, something from our parent’s generation. Though we grew up with the inklings of unrest in the Middle East, with Desert Storm it was over almost as quickly as it began. We moved on. We partied, loved, rocked and rolled our way through the Nineties and early Millennium like there was never a sad thing to experience.
And then it was taken away. The innocence, or perhaps ignorance, of a nation that became so trusting and open. We had been free, we went where we wanted, did what we wanted, loved who we wanted. Then in one fail swoop our literal and proverbial freedom was ripped right out from under us at a little after 9:00 on Tuesday September 11, 2001.
But as a nation we bounced back from it all. Countless people were able to lend support to New York in their time of need. Countless Bostonians made their way to NYC to do anything they could to help sort out the rubble whether it was physical piles or the mental marbles rolling around in everyone’s head while they tried to make sense out of something so destructive happening in their backyard for the first time in, well frankly, forever.
Before 9/11 there were plenty of random attacks – Timothy McVeigh in OKC, the ’93 WTC bombing, Columbine, etc. – but the sheer force with which 9/11 hit us all was enough to press the reset button. Whoa, these people were coordinated and knew exactly what they were doing. They planned for months and our ig-nocent nation was shown its inner vulnerability.
But that happened almost twelve years ago now and I think we all thought we were headed back to some level of normalcy. Hundreds of events have happened between 9/11 and the Boston bombing. Planes went back into the air, the subway stations stopped patting down everyone who went through a turnstile, cursory bag checks at sporting events were all but laughable, knitting needles were allowed in a personal bag inside an aircraft.
And then the force of two bombs shook us all again in an instant.
And forgive me if I sound ig-nocent but the fact of it happening at all forces me to ask the question – why? I know I’ll never get answers. And asking a question only begets another question when it comes to senseless acts of aggression.
Thankfully, just like the last time, this shocking wave of misery will eventually dissipate and I’ll be back to living without feeling like I have to retreat into a corner out of some kind of world-weighted fear. But until then I imagine my inner self won’t stop asking for answers even though I know I will never really have any that satisfy my soul.