I wrote this last night as the full horror of the Boston Marathon attack was unveiling. I quickly took it down after comments that I was being too hasty, that I was trying to insert myself into the news. My intentions were purely to write a kind of love letter to that most European and civilised of US cities that had such a profound effect on me during my glorious summer there. So I’ve decided to post it anyway because I believe that any act of terror or aggression, anywhere in the world, is an offence against us all.
I spent the most transformative summer of my life in Boston. The summer of wild haircuts and sexual experimentation and class As. Of ending up living in a car because I was such a pain in the arse to all my friends. Of eating a lot of lobster and 4am breakfasts. Of stealing boyfriends. Kissing girls. The Rat. Spit. Sneaking in to see the cool new bands. Paying pilgimrage to Colonel Shaw’s monument. Back Bay and Fenway. Growing up, exploring myself, a Brit kid in a city far from home that let me find out about myself. That welcomed me in with open arms and let me run amok and come out the other side unscathed.
I love that city from Brookline to the South End and out to Cambridge and the ferry to the Cape. I have really dear friends there. I’m wondering exactly what the fuck is going on when I see runners scattered by noise and smoke. Under attack. My twitter feed ticking past at nightmare speed. News of other devices. People dead and the death toll rising. Shrapnel injuries leaving people mutilated, amputated. Injuries from a war zone.
Not Boston. Why Boston?
When I was growing up, it wasn’t a Saturday at the local shopping centre unless there was a bomb scare. I’ve been evacuated from the Arndale more times than I care to remember. I was once evacuated from the local theatre mid performance. Ended up in the local pub in full frock and slap. It was all fun and games at the time because there was never an actual bomb – just the adrenalin rush of being a whisker from potential danger.
But never an actual bomb. Never the smoke and blast and turmoil and terror of an actual bomb. Never the not knowing whether loved ones or friends have been injured or worse. Never the not knowing of where another device might detonate.
Imagine going out on a Spring day to run a marathon. Or taking your kids to watch the runners go by on a state holiday. Patriots Day. Then unimaginable noise and smoke. Then people running towards the blast to help those hurt and injured. Then runners continuing on past the finish line to get to the hospital to give blood.
I’m not religious. But tonight I’ll pray for Boston. Because it’s the very least I can do.
The international phone number for relatives of Boston Marathon runners to call from the UK is: 00 1 617 635 4500
Twitter is an invaluable source not only of news but of information, advice, offers of places to stay etc #bostonmarathon @boston_police