I was obsessed with the Boston Marathon-Watertown attacks. Followed the hour-to-hour headlines the first few days. When the action moved to Watertown on Thursday night and lock-down Friday, that changed. I became a live-action addict as police cars were spotted moving toward some sort of end game. Me and millions of others.
I had an additional reason for my addiction: A grown child--Alpha daughter and her family--lives on a street that's on the Watertown border. Her emails were, as Uber son put it on his Facebook posting, "like a postcard from the edge of civilization."
The first one on Friday morning: "A minute ago, Tao started barking her alarm bark, and we looked out the window ... to see a lone man crossing Mt. Auburn St. (Belmont Ave.) wearing a hoodie and a baseball cap. ... Kind of weird. Weird that anyone would wear that right now. We decided he was bigger than the fugitive. However Tao is on alert by the window. Our neighbor, who just graduated from Rindge, was on the wrestling team with the guy (the younger brother) and said he was really nice, everybody liked him. Madness..."
Her brother called her to say that if she could find a way to do it, she should bundle the family in the car and drive to his house--2.5 hours to the west. She couldn't, of course. A few hours later on Facebook she posted this:
"Police helicopter hovering over the house & police lining the street at the end of the block, swat team in church -- we live on the Watertown line. Not sure when dog walking will be possible."
I was filled with nervous energy all day. There she was in a house that, it turned out, was nine streets away from the boat where Dzhokhar was shocked and awed out of his hiding. The town diner where swat teams assembled and police hung out--an easy walk from her house, one we take all the time when we visit.
We were all flooded with relief when the end finally came. For the country, for Boston, for Watertown--and on a more personal level, for my own little family. When our children are in the slightest bit of danger, our tiger-bear fur ruffles up. But the cubs are grown up, living their lives, managing this difficult experience without our help. It's their experience, not ours. They were under seige, not us.
And yet I still feel the need to vent, to bore friends with the "close call," such as it was. To show them the maps and point out where Alpha daughter lives, where the shootout was, where the boat was housed in a backyard--so close to her house and yet far enough away. I don't want to inflict my worries on my daughter--even in hindsight. But that doesn't make them go away. So I'm unloading on friends and on my blog. Does no harm. My silver lining: how bro and sis reached out to each other in a time of stress--and not with a heavy hand.
There's at least one person I know who shares my unease. A co-worker says his daughter, a graduate student in Boston, was walking from Brookline toward the Marathon finish line when the bombs went off. "She was too far off to see anything, but it was a close call nonetheless," he tells me. I understand. So far and yet so near.