22 April 2013

"We Outnumber You"

Patriots' Day, the best ones anyway, always start at Fenway and end on Boylston Street. It's a quintessentially Boston rite of spring, a day when it's perfectly acceptable to be a little drunk and two hot dogs deep before noon. After the game, you file out and shuffle up Ipswich Street toward Boylston and maybe stop at Bukowski's for one more glass depending upon the crowds. Then you reconvene on the corner of Boylston and Hereford to watch the runners - friends, family or strangers -- take that final triumphant turn onto Boylston where they can see the finish line within reach. It's electric. All of it. It feels like the city is waking up. I love that tradition. Haven't participated in several years but I know I will next year!

So last week. WTF.  

It feels like 10 years ago. It's been seven days. How is it only seven days?

I've had all this manic energy. I have been practicing my standard issue therapy -- walking with loud music --  but so many times this week, I've walked in the door only to turn around and head back out again needing to walk some more, turn the music up even louder. Burn this off! 

I thought about starting to run but then remembered that I get tired slicing french bread, so I won't insult the real runners and will stick to what I know. I had to write something out to exorcise some demons.

Last Monday, we were en route home from the Bahamas and all of us were a little grumpy that vacation was over. Around 3:30, we were in the air making our final descent into Boston and I said to James, "At least we got home without some major news event going down."  Cue the breaking news banner flashing across the little seat back TV. 

On 9/11, we were in Italy and couldn't get home for five days.  Two years ago, we were in the Bahamas when they caught Bin Laden.  And while that was not a tragedy, it still involved chasing a Hello Kitty suitcase around baggage claim surrounded by the National Guard and automatic weapons. 

Now, here we are in a holding pattern over the city not sure if we were going to be able to land. Luckily, we were circling our old neighborhood so we could distract the kids from the screens. "Look, there is our old house!" "There is Nana and Papa's old house. It's such a nice day, maybe we can see Jim and Mike working in the garden." We were the last plane to land before the full ground stop. And cell service was temporarily suspended. 

Deja vu all over again with panic: On 9/11 we couldn't get a call home and had no idea who was on the planes from Boston or working in NYC. This time:  Who was at the Marathon today? The Sox game? Too many family members and friends to name. It just reactivated all of those fun emotional souvenirs.

A few weeks ago I was at the Today Show with Caroline for her birthday. Going through security, Carrie was easily waved through with her cute sign for Al Roker. I know I don't look fierce but I was a bit perturbed by the ineffectual glance at my purse. For those who know me, I'm always packing heavy and this time was no exception; my purse could easily accommodate a small goat.  I was thinking, "Rummage, man, rummage!"  Recently, I was having coffee with a friend who said he if he was ever going to rob something, it wouldn't be a bank but a Starbuck's. My response was something akin to, "What the hell is wrong with you," but there on the plaza my immediate thought was of how easy it would be to blow this place up. Now, these are two fleeting thoughts from people who don't rob or pillage or blow things up. Imagine what people with actual intentions are thinking? The sentiment didn't linger, but it's always there. 

All of it might make you want to "shelter in place" voluntarily.

But this is where things take a turn. Last Friday, everyone's first priority was taking care of each other. Everyone stayed home, clearing a path for law enforcement to get their jobs done.  And in a way, it was some much-needed hang time for most of the city. A snow day. While nothing can take away the tragedy, the way the city, the country, humankind responded brought some comfort. People reacted with love and kindness. (BTW, One Fund Boston raised more than $10 million in less than 24 hours which is amazing. Wow!)  

I'm as quick to complain about as I am to defend our Bostonians. Provincial, aloof. Sure, there are plenty of people who live in their bubbles and wouldn't give you a glass of water if you were on fire, but many, many more astound with the depth of their kindness and humanity. They outnumber.

Lovable actor Patton Oswald wrote a very inspiring post on his blog and I'm taking his words "We Outnumber you" as a mantra going forward. An excerpt:  "The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear of just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.'"

So, on that note, I am starting a list of the good things that happened this week. Feel free to add anything I've left out.  

-Dedham artist Peter Reynolds said it best:  

Rene Rancourt: A Boston institution. I love that he still tarts up in in a tux, greases up his 'stache and belts out the national anthem before Bruins' games (and no more so than this weekend when the crowd sang with him). I've always had a mild obsession with Rene and I still wonder what he does during the day. What's he doing right now?  I met him years ago and he was so effusive and lovely. I had an 8x10 black and white framed photo of him in my living room in my Brighton apartment and it got more attention than if it'd been a piece of fine art. I believe someone once referred to it as "The best f*cking thing I've ever seen."  Then one night we had a party and somebody stole it. Who would do that? 

Gov. Patrick:  "The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are."

People rushing to give blood in the immediate aftermath. Spectators helping alongside EMS.

Unbelievable law enforcement. Who doesn't want to give Commissioner Ed Davis a bear hug?

David "This is our f*cking city" Ortiz. 

Sweet Caroline at Fenway and Yankee Stadium (although my own Sweet Caroline is worried sick that her music teacher is going to make them sing that today. She gets embarrassed). 

Mike Barnicle and Kevin Cullen

This video

So much more...Carry on!

A teacher once told me (and I always repeat this to my kids), "Don't let people get you down because they lack imagination."  I loved that and it's so true. Don't let the bad nature/evil/doucheyness of others infect your spirit.  Don't let the bastards get you down. The only way to beat the bad guys is to rise above them. They are outnumbered! Continued and constant prayers for all of the families and love, light and peace to all. ~KJ

**And BTW, this incident has reawakened my anger over my Rene Rancourt photo. The suspects were caught within 24 hours after FBI video was released so I'm sending out an APB on the PU. I don't want it back, I just want to know why. :)