Boston: Before and After
I’ve been spending some time off-line lately, friends. Asking my housemate to disconnect the internets before she goes to work, telling myself I don’t know how to plug it back in. Apparently I need trickery like that to write a book.
Monday was one of those off-line days. I spent the morning down in my writing lair, trying to figure out just how to explain the mechanics of salmon trolling to non-fishing readers without boring them (and me) to tears. As soon as I paused for lunch, my phone rang.
Joel didn’t bother with a greeting. “Are Charles and Cami and Bill okay?”
I didn’t know why they wouldn’t be. All runners, our friends had long been anticipating this big day.
“There were explosions at the Boston Marathon. They don’t know how many people are hurt.”
Longtime Hooked readers know about my friend Cami Ostman — this blog began thanks to her encouragement. Though she’s completed a marathon on every continent, Cami wasn’t running in Boston. She was there to cheer for her husband Bill, a four-time participant.
Charles Claassen is another friend of several connections. Years before we met Charles, we heard about the great chef preparing our salmon at the North Cascades Institute. Several years ago, he left NCI to open the BookFare Café, housed in Village Books. Our good fortune: with BookFare, Charles has created one of Bellingham’s beloved “third places.”
As soon as Joel hung up, I texted Cami. “WTF? You guys okay? Sending love…”
Moments later, my phone buzzed. “We are ok.”
Cami has since written about their experience, posted here on her blog. It’s an important read, and makes me newly grateful for my friend — not only that she was okay, but that she’s the person she is, the one who will make the conclusion that I most need to hear. You might need to hear it, too.
I haven’t gotten much writing done in the past few days, but am still trying to steer mostly clear of the internets. The barrage of frenzied headlines, wild, type-before-you-think speculation, and vicious commentary doesn’t help me grieve those suffering or be the person I want to be. I want to choose love over hate, compassion over fear. Before and after, I choose to believe in the goodness of people. It’s never trumpeted as loudly as heartbreak and horrors, but we can amplify human kindness through evidence like this Sitka man’s selflessness, and these TED talks, and this woman’s resolution. We can choose what we take in, and what our takeaway will be.
Of course these choices are rooted in the privilege of distance. Would I still find comfort in pretty thoughts if people dear to me had been among the maimed and traumatized? If my exposure wasn’t so simple as not clicking on a particular link, and the view out my Pacific Northwest window wasn’t so serene, where two squirrels squabbling over a peanut was the most violence I’d seen today?
I can’t say.
Like any of us, all I can do is turn to the things that give me comfort. A long snuggle with sweetheart and cat. Medicinal music. Choosing which steps will carry me forward, while holding others in my heart.
You’re included among those thoughts, friends. Be care-full, be well.