“Are you seeing this? Is your family okay?” The texts flooded in and roused me from my sleep at 2am. At first I thought I was probably dreaming- I had already received these messages on Monday afternoon as concerned friends and classmates and I watched the tragic events at the Boston Marathon unfold. But now it’s early Friday morning, 4 days later. I had fallen asleep only a half hour earlier after a night out in Boston. Nothing out of the ordinary downtown, I recalled. Little did I know that minutes away from the bar, a shooting had taken place and suspects had engaged in a car chase with the police- explosions and gunfire in Watertown.
At 5am I heard a siren. I sleepily checked my phone- 4 more messages. I finally opened Facebook- pages and pages of posts about staying Boston Strong. Still rather delirious, I opened my laptop and checked Channel 5 and Buzzfeed. The siren I heard wasn’t routine…that much was clear. My parents are usually up early watching the news, so assuming they’d have more clarity, I stumbled toward their room. I didn’t hear the TV- they were still sleeping. I opened the door and saw Dad on the iPad playing Solitaire; he clearly had no knowledge of the events unfolding. My mom was just waking from sleep, probably expecting she’d have to get my sister up for school. We live on the Brighton/Newton line, about 2 miles from Watertown. It was a weird feeling- being the most informed in my family so early in the morning, especially when such an event was happening so close by. Thank you social media. Thank you Buzzfeed for live updates. As a twenty-something, I have grown with each new social media outlet. I watched the birth of Facebook and Twitter and remember them vividly, but I don’t remember much about what the news was like before these sources made everything so readily available. I remember finding out about 9/11 during my afternoon block in 5th grade and heading to a friend’s house to watch the news. But that’s it. Fast forward twelve years, and here I am: the first to tell my class about the bombings at the Marathon on Monday, and the first to tell my family to check the news on Friday morning.
I lie here now, sandwiched between my parents in bed flipping between news channels, feeling safer than ever. I am happy to have their brains to pick about this whole gruesome scenario. But less than 3 miles away in a town that houses so many of my close friends and relatives, SWAT teams, hundreds of police, and bomb squads line the streets.
Lockdown in the Cooper household isn’t a bad thing. I’m relieved not to have to make the 2 hour drive back to school quite yet. My mom is trying to motivate herself to put coffee on. My dad is cracking definitely-inappropriate jokes about the bomber, emailing responses to his concerned friends that “We’re serving coffee to a strange man in our kitchen…” I know that we’re going to drum up some absurdly delicious breakfast feast in a few hours. I’m hungry. And a little peeved that my plans are ruined for the day- I wanted to go work out, have brunch at my favorite spot with my friends who happen to be in town for once…I think these thoughts are only possible because I feel so removed from what’s happening even though I recognize every storefront and street sign on the news right now.
Part of me knows that the sole reason I feel so safe because I’m in a warm bed with my family. I would feel plenty different if I were at school in Connecticut. I need to be here with my sister, my mom, and my dad. I feel a little silly…I’m graduating college exactly one month from today. I’m moving to New York City three days later and starting my first job the following week. But this, here, is safe. Even though I’m in the thick of it, 2 miles from the center of all this with helicopters now whirring overhead, I don’t want to be anywhere else. I remember lying in this exact position as a toddler, too afraid of E.T. to sleep in my bed alone. My parents had powers against the monsters in my closet, but what would happen if the suspect did make his way into Newton? And busted through our door? I don’t know what would happen if this apparently-Chechen bomber was closer by. How much closer would he have to get before this feeling of safety shatters? As a seemingly independent 20-something, it’s unsettling to realize that I still find the most safety smushed between my parents. I have faith in the people of Boston, our incredible police force, the FBI. If I have learned anything over the past week, it is that we are Boston Strong. And if I have learned anything over the last 24 hours, it is that the bond I have with my family will carry me through to my next chapter.