For the first handful of years to my life, Patriot’s Day just happened to be the Monday of April vacation week (most Massachusetts schoolchildren have this week off, and most businesses are closed today as well). There was a Marathon or something, it was a Boston thing, it was all over the local news. It often rained, but once in awhile it was the start of true Spring weather. Sometimes it fell on the day after Easter. It was just part of the rhythm of the year. Last vacation before summer.
My first adult year living in Boston (this would be April 1990), I was struck with this sudden irrational urge to buy and set up an aquarium. I decided to walk to a nearby pet store (found in the yellow pages, which were still a useful thing back then) to get a tank, filter and some gravel for initial setup. I had to cross Beacon Street to get there, and it turned out… oh, Marathon. That’s right, it’s today. That year they had kids in uniform (ROTC kids, I think; from local schools, probably) serving as escorts to help noisome pedestrians like myself across breaks in the (surprisingly distributed– as you cross it, the street is actually eerily empty) pack of runners so we could get to the other side of the street. So I crossed in one direction, an awkward anonymous grad student all alone. And a half hour later I crossed in the other direction, the same awkward anonymous grad student bearing a 10 gallon aquarium tank with 3 bags of gravel and a filter inside of it, on his way home to fill said tank up with water so he could let it sit for a week to settle before he could add some fish to it.
Later (1995-9 or so), it became a day when there was no point in trying to take the train to work. I’d take it off, hide from the crowds. It signified the beginning of the end of the Winter Funk. I developed a habit of going to the local package store (along the route) in the late afternoon on Marathon day. Most of the crowd had dispersed by then, but standing in the littered streets were always those last few Spectators, and they’d be cheering on the ‘stragglers’ who were at that point just running to finish it. To this day, when you say “Marathon” to me, that is the image that comes to me.
By now, I live well north of downtown, and I know how to get to work without running into Marathon issues. It’s just another day. But then I heard sirens, and heard planes flying over Cambridge, and checked twitter etc and found out what had happened only a few minutes after it had.
Ask me in a year. Or two. Or a few.
For today, so close to home… barely two miles from my office?
I have nothing.