April 18, 2011
I am supposed to be home, but standby travel isn’t always easy, so I’m stranded in Boston. I don’t have Monday classes anyway, so having Monday classes off isn’t special, and the Marathon means nothing to me. I forget about it completely until I’m sitting in the Myles Standish Dining Hall (may it rest in peace) and I hear people come in, talking about it. With nothing else to do, I decide to check it out—it’s literally right outside, after all, and if it’s stupid I can come back in.
I see my neighbor, Brad. We don’t know each other well but he’s also by himself so we stand together against a barricade. “How does this work?” I ask him.
“I don’t know, we yell at strangers?”
April 16, 2012
I now understand how Patriot’s Day works in Boston, and my father still gets a kick out of how I explained it to him: “an entire metropolitan city shuts down so that all its residents can day drink in the street.”
So that is what we do, me and my fellow residents of Kenmore Square: we meet up in dorm rooms and take shots of cheap vodka and cheap rum and chase them with cream soda and dining hall juices and we are young and we are tipsy and we are dumb and we are innocent. We cross under Kenmore to yell at strangers, and we take beautiful pictures that are still my favorite, and we remind the runners, sweating and panting and bleeding and smiling, that they only have one more mile to go and that we are so proud of them, so proud.
We cheer for our RA, we take pictures of the elites, we take glorious evening naps and wake up sunburned, hungover, and happy. We tell our friends back home that Patriot’s Day is our new favorite holiday.
April 15, 2013
I had to look up the dates for my first two Marathons, but this one is forever seared into my memory. In the year-plus since it has happened, I have never written about it, save for a few lines scribbled into a notebook about how “sirens make me jump again.”
For the two weeks preceding it, I’d been battling a nasty concussion, but the deal I made with my caretaker friends was that if I behaved, I could have one drink on Marathon Monday and—as long as I stayed out of Kenmore where things get crazy—I could watch the race.
I sipped a margarita through a bendy straw as I wished Brad a Happy Friendaversary and cheered for the wheelchair contestants, who have always been my real favorites. I was the sober one but I didn’t mind, because I was outside and the weather was beautiful and I was with people I loved.
Our friend ran by so some of us ran with him, and then we saw helicopters and heard sirens and suddenly, something beautiful became something ugly. We huddled together, weeping, convinced that everyone we’d ever loved was dead. We heard from ghosts who’d kept our phone numbers despite losing contact for years, we called our parents, and we shoved food and water into our drunk friends and tried to console them even though we couldn’t be consoled ourselves.
In the days and weeks and months that followed, as we found our friends and adorned ourselves with blue and yellow and tried not to say the word “fear” aloud, we insisted that next year would be better than ever before, but we always ended our declarations with a quiet little question mark.
April 21, 2014
It is 8:42 p.m. and I just woke up from the most magnificent nap and just like sophomore year, my nose resembles Rudolph’s. There is a bruise on my tummy that looks like a hickey from leaning over the barricade and screaming until I literally had no voice left that the incredible men and women passing me had just run 24 miles, and that was amazing, and that the two miles they had left were nothing, they had it, it was all them, it’s all downhill, keep going, they can do it.
Last week, we talked a lot about the year before, but this morning, we made no mention. While we sipped our mimosas and fashioned our blue and yellow BOSTON STRONG t-shirts into trendy racerback tanks, we hummed and laughed and jumped up and down, so ready so excited let’s go let’s go let’s go let’s go!
Today, there were no texts from old lovers asking if I was okay, there was no mayhem, there were no tears. There was dehydration and there was hunger, but there were also smiles from champions. When a police officer passed me on a bike, I called out a “thank you!” and could not understand why he would return the sentiment, given that I was publicly inebriated, but he did and I was happy.
Before coming to Boston, I read somewhere that if you stand on a street corner here and close your eyes, you can hear and feel the city surge around you. There’s a type of energy and bustle that reverberates, and once you tap into it it’s a part of you.
I have never run a Marathon, I haven’t even run more than two miles in nearly a year. But this 26.2 mile course is now a part of me. I felt every single rubbered heel that hit the pavement today, and when I do lace up my tennis shoes, I think of the skyline with every loop.
My hands are chapped from clapping, my throat is sore from yelling, and my heart is full. I love you, Boston. Thanks for letting me call you home.
Inspiration for the format of this post came from my friend Theo’s reflections on his four Marathon Mondays, and all the photos are my own.