Running shoes left by mourners are part of the Boston Marathon bombing victims memorial in Boston's Copley Square - April 25, 2013
Running shoes left by mourners are part of the Boston Marathon bombing victims memorial in Boston’s Copley Square – April 25, 2013

By now, everyone in the world knows what happened in Boston on April 15, 2013. I didn’t know anyone who was hurt in the bombings, nor was I in the city at the time it happened. For a while now, I thought that I had nothing to say or to share about what happened. There are so many dramatic, sad, tragic, inspiring, uplifting, or hopeful stories from that day. Me? A coworker and I were sitting in my cushy office and fussing over a SharePoint form around the time when people were losing limbs in the street.

I don’t live in the city anymore. I’m one of those Boston college grads who eventually moved to the suburbs and now only visit the city on the weekends. But guess what? Boston is still my city, and it always will be. Allston was my front yard and Back Bay was my playground for almost 8 years. I spent my 20s walking past the Prudential Center on Boylston, window shopping on Newbury, and, yes, partying on Landsdowne.

Every Patriot’s Day since my college days, I would be somewhere on the Boston Marathon route cheering the runners. Sometimes it was at checkpoints along the way to Boston; sometimes it was near the finish line where you can see the joy and exhaustion as each runner comes in. This year was the first year that I didn’t have that day off from work and it was so strange to be missing this event.

I haven’t visited Boston since before the bombings. Yesterday, it was time to play hooky from work and spend some time in the city. (If I work with you and you are reading this post, I took vacation time and wasn’t pretending to be sick. Unlike some of you slackers. Just kidding. #notreallykidding)

A runner left her shirt and name tag at the Boston Marathon bombing victims memorial in Boston's Copley Square. The name tag says "Nikki Mansfield RUNNER!" - April 25, 2013
A runner left her shirt and name tag at the Boston Marathon bombing victims memorial in Boston’s Copley Square. The name tag says “Nikki Mansfield RUNNER!” – April 25, 2013

It was a laugh and cry kind of day. My husband and I took off early from work to see the touring cast of “The Book of Mormon” at the Opera House. That musical is highly offensive and so very, very hilarious. We needed to laugh. Not just the two of us, but everyone in the Opera House. We just needed to laugh.

After the show, we walked across Boston Common and the Public Garden over to Boylston Street to visit the growing memorial in Copley Square. It was around 5:00 p.m., very close to rush hour. The crowd wasn’t overwhelming in number and it was eerily quiet. Most people spoke in whispers if they spoke at all.

"Love is Louder" is one of many messages on this One Boston board in Copley Square. #BostonStrong
“Love is Louder” is one of many messages on this One Boston board in Copley Square. #BostonStrong
A beautiful stuffed white tiger is part of the Boston Marathon bombing victims memorial in Boston's Copley Square - April 25, 2013
A beautiful stuffed white tiger is part of the Boston Marathon bombing victims memorial in Boston’s Copley Square – April 25, 2013

This was definitely the “cry” portion of our day. The memorial is overwhelming. People have left hats, shirts, stuffed animals, flowers, running shoes, running singlets … it was too much to take in at once.

Further down Boylston Street, we walked by Forum restaurant, site of the second bomb. The restaurant is still boarded up but their web site says, in part, “Forum will be closed until further notice, as we are now a crime scene. Our beautiful restaurant sustained heavy damage and will need to be rebuilt after the site is cleared.”

We kept walking and found ourselves in front of Marathon Sports, site of the first bomb.

marathonsports04262013

There was a crowd gathered in front of the store. We stopped briefly but then went inside. We had come to the Back Bay area to spend some money at local businesses that were closed for 8 days while the FBI and the police cleared that stretch of Boylston Street. We should buy running shoes. Yes, perfect.

I won’t bore you with a paragraph about gait analysis, but I will tell you that we got to meet the lovely and talented Kim Douglas (@kmbrlynn on Twitter, also visit her blog) in real life. Kim, who works at Marathon Sports, is friends with our friend Kailani K-M. We didn’t know this until Kailani saw my tweets about visiting Marathon Sports and “introduced” us.  Twitter love for the win!

With bags in hand, it was time to walk back to our car and head home to the ‘burbs. We were both quiet, emotional, and tired. It was strange to walk Boylston Street and see how people had returned to normal life – chatting on their phone, waiting for a bus, hailing a cab – and know how terrible the scene was just over a week ago.

Looking up, I saw the John Hancock Tower set against a brilliant blue sky. It was perfect and beautiful and so very Boston. Yes, Boston is my city, and it always will be.

Back Bay