Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Four Minutes and Eleven Seconds

My official Boston Marathon time was 3:57:33. Starting in wave 3 and showing up to the start line a few minutes late meant my clock didn't start until about 8 minutes in. My best guess is that I crossed the finish line at 4:05:33 race-time.
The bombs went off 4 minutes and 11 seconds later. I was getting a blanket/gatorade in the finishing area, the explosion was about 100 meters behind me. I heard it, turned, and saw the smoke starting to rise.
In hindsight this sounds stupid but No One in my area assumed it was a bomb. We had just run for 4 hours and brainwaves were struggling to communicate with each other. On some elementary level we knew something was wrong but is sounded like a bang, not the boom that movies would lend you to believe. It could have been some kind of machinery failure, or maybe even something like the musketeers at a Patriots game. Everyone in the crowd of runners looked to each other asking "what was that" in various emotive tones- some a hushed inquiry and others with an undertone of save me, tell me it's ok.
The advice of the BAA volunteers (who were amazing, fwiw) was to grab a Gatorade and keeping moving forward. The 50-something woman beside me was crying. She grabbed my arm and cried "what happened?" I took her hand and walked to the bag pick up, on the way listening to the conversations of strangers who were growing increasingly concerned. Our heart rate was coming back down to normal and our wits returning. The previous logic of "it can't be a bomb, that would've leveled the block"had given way to the fact that I've never seen a bomb go off and I just saw an explosion.
I grabbed my bag and took out my phone, needing desperately to know that my friends- who minutes ago I high-fived- were ok. Smoke was coming from the general direction I had seen them. Thankfully I had a missed call to prove they were ok.
In those two minutes the spreading words: bomb, limps, evacuate, had made it up the street.
People were crying, screaming, and sprinting away from the finish line, I was almost run over sitting by a fence next to the bag buses.
I think people run away from tragedy and pain because they want to feel some sense of control: If I can get myself quickly to a different place then my fate is in my own hands. But there wasn't any controlling this- the piece of earth where you stand might be no safer then the piece of ground you move to. If something else was happening- this might be it.
I texted a few friends who were near the finish to let them know I was ok.
I called my dad- he was so proud/happy for me (news hadn't broken the story yet) so it was surreal to tell him what was happening.  I contacted MFH and wandered to a friend's nearby apartment, on the way passing people covered in blood, others crying on their cell phones, some stunned staring at something only they could see before them.
Hugs from Alexa and my friends helped. We did an inventory of people who might be hurt/missing, made a list, and started to make sure someone had heard from them.
It was a few hours before everyone had been accounted for, but thankfully my friends are all ok. But my heart is heavy that other people's friends/family are not.


Yesterday I hugged/kissed/held hands with not only friends and family but also strangers. Yesterday we w
ere all just people- no hierarchal statuses or cliques. Today were still all people, tomorrow we will be as well. Try to not be mean to anyone, don't think you're better than them or judge them. We're all just doing our thing and someone who is a minor blip to you is a huge part of someone else's life and is complicated and amazing.


Today I'm thankful for all the expressions of love and calls/texts/emails yesterday. If I could only give you a quick answer at the time please know that I want more of you. Let's catch up/keep hanging out.
Today I'm thankful for the health/safety/general awesomeness of my friends- they made sure the people they knew were accounted for then started helping strangers (and Zack) contact and reunite with people that were looking for them.

To my friend Alex- you are one of the few people who admits to reading my blog so I know you'll see this. Don't let these sick assholes take away the feeling of accomplishment that you deserve. I hope when the sad starts to fade you will be as proud of yourself as everyone else already is of you.

I'm angry- we all are. And we need to know what happened- who did this and why- before we can let go and move on to a better-healed new normal. I sincerely hope nothing is taken away from the future of Boston. Next year we should cheer louder for the runners and celebrate Patriots day more feverishly than ever before. Keep bringing the high 5's and hugs and kisses to anyone who could use one.

I'll be a little weird for a while but I am ok.
With Love and Gratitude,
JP


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Putting A Run of Bad Cards in Context (An Overdue "Thank You for the Awesome Donation" to my Parents)

This is a much belated Thank You For Donating to MFH post to my parents:

Lot of Text, worth it


At 26 I feel both young enough to remember childhood experiences and old enough to be able to see their place in my becoming this current level of me. Without ever pushing to an unreasonable level, my childhood took full advantage of the freedom to explore that my parents gave me.
They supported my obsession with collecting baseball cards, took me to get the best yoyo so I could dominate the 2 days that it was cool to yoyo. They sent me to inline skating camp, etc, etc,etc.
I remember the cruise we went on when I was only 14 and my dad snuck me into the casino to play penny slots. The cab ride back to the airport he told the cab driver I hit "it" big. The cab driver was very unimpressed to hear it was $11. At the time $11 might has well have been a million. It was money that came out of a machine because I was good at a shiny game, cabbie didn't get it.
I look at my current allovertheplace hobbies/interests and I owe you, mom and dad, a thank you for letting me explore them. You probably often had to close your eyes in support of a bad idea that you wanted me to see on my own. As I continue whatever this exploration will become, I'm very lucky to know that I come from you two and you have my back.

I'm old enough now to realize a few times that I was completely "got" by my parents.
-One time I was having a little kid fight with my mom about some little kid b.s. and told her I was going to run away. She didn't try to stop me, I was sneaky fast so how would she have? I turned my pillowcase into a rucksack and filled it with granola bars and juice boxes (it was summer and I was 7ish, so this covers everything you need to live on your own right?) Before I left my mom nonchalantly told me to make sure I don't drink the juice boxes after dark. Juice will attract wolves.
Forget that wolves don't drink juice: there are 0 wolves around our house. There was also a 100% chance I would return home before dark. Well played mom.
-On a trip to Toronto I got an ear infection. My parents had room service bring up pudding every few hours and let me watch Last Action Hero on repeat for 36 hours. I was scary sick but don't remember any pain or nausea. I was on an adventure, it was something new.

I spent most of a sleepless last night bemoaning a few hours of bad luck. In the scheme of my "luck" I got to grow up as part of my family so I imagine I'm way ahead. Hopefully it stays that way and I can share it with all of you.
Thank you mom and dad, not just for the donation, but also for "doing the nasty" and making me happen (I feel so dirty typing that.)

Want your own "Thank You" reminiscence? Donate big moneys to Medicines for Humanity at http://www.crowdrise.com/TeamMedicinesforHumanity/fundraiser/JessePlate.
We're having a fundraiser on 4/6 (6:30pm) at The Point. Come by if you can.