I got up early this morning to depart on a trip to see friends in Washington, DC, and New York City. I sprung for a cab to South Station, because I had no idea what the newly "heightened security" would do to the commuting time on the T - though I was fairly certain that I would have been stopped and my two meticulously packed bags searched and disheveled.
I left my apartment just a little bit before 9am, and was struck by how empty the streets seemed for a weekday morning, though certainly part of that is due to school vacation week and the corresponding lack of school buses. When I walked up the stairs at South Station and saw two members of the transit police accompanied by two National Guard members in fatigues carrying semi-automatic weapons, I gasped.
It did not make me feel safer. You can say that the good guy with the gun is the only answer to the bad guy with the gun all you want, but when the proverbial bad guy has explosives, all the good guys with guns in the world won't make me feel better.
There were marathoners and their families in line with me, all looking tired but smiling. They were wearing their 2013 Boston Marathon jackets, and naturally the people around them asked questions about yesterday's events. One man had finished in three hours and fifteen minutes, and admitted to being disappointed with his time, given the "perfect maraton weather" that we experienced yesterday.
The conversation had a lighthearted, joking quality - sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. Passengers who had been watching along the route chimed in about their confusion and eventual shocked and dismayed enlightenment. One woman had been across the street from the second blast in a restaurant, and emphasized the disbelief she felt, but commented jocularly about her ability to bond with other patrons during the stressful time.
The talk turned back to the marathon, to Patriot's Day, and to what this tragedy will mean for the future of the event and the city. Naturally, people turned to the runners in line to ask them for their thoughts: "Will you run the Boston Marathon again?"
The man who was disappointed with his 3.15 finish turned around, the smile he had been sharing with his son (also a finisher) vanished as a look of utmost seriousness took over his face, "Next year," he promised.
That was about when the bus arrived. I climbed on, set my iTunes library to shuffle, and listened with disbelief and wonder as Dirty Water came through my headphones and accompanied my departure from the city.
The feeling that song gave me was just like the feeling that I get when I hear it at Fenway Park after a Red Sox win. It's a feeling of optimism, of joy, of determination. Boston might never be the same after yesterday's events, but Bostonians are notoriously tough. We'll get though this together.