BOSTON BACK TO NORBAL
The intentional misspelling of “normal” in my title is stolen from a “Mad Magazine” of the late 1960’s, which poked fun at the idea LSD was a “recreational drug” that had no lasting effects. The character, after a LSD trip, states the trip is over and everything is “back to norbal.”
Well, things are back to norbal around here, after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, (which is just another way of saying nothing will ever be the same.)
Boston is about a ninety minute drive from my farm, when the traffic is light. It’s about sixty miles as the crow flies. From a high hill you can see its skyscrapers, tiny on the horizon. However it was near enough for the bombing to hit home.
My youngest son was trying hard to ignore the marathon, and to focus on studying for his finals, (one of which wound up canceled,) but he had to notice the sudden flow of upset people heading away from the marathon on Huntington Avenue, as he looked out his dorm window. Then there was the following confusion, upset, and the strange sensation of not being allowed outside, (they were allowed to go eat, under the watchful eyes of the campus police, but were not allowed to dawdle,) and that was followed by the huge release from tension, and being part of a pent-up population of students all rushing outside at once, cheering and applauding the passing police. Then there was a sort of let down, or else a sense of, “Now what?”
My oldest son and his wife were watching the marathon, but after the leaders passed they wanted to “beat the traffic,” and were already leaving the city when the trouble happened, and they had the good sense to get the heck out-of-town. They watched it all from afar, on TV, but they too now ask, “Now what?”
My older sister lives in Watertown and works at MIT, so she was in the middle of things. The night the first terrorist brother was killed she could hear the pipe bombs getting louder and louder, as the vehicle was pursued, and heard all the gunfire. The day she wasn’t allowed to leave the house her husband took the above picture out their front door. (The soldiers were friendly, and were polite as they knocked at her door to make certain she wasn’t being held hostage.) Then when the second brother was captured she again heard all the gunfire. And now she too asks, “Now what?”
It was a week many Massachusetts public schools were closed for Spring Vacation. A parent of a child at our Childcare teaches in Massachusetts, and was on vacation last week, and, upon returning to school last Monday, found all the teachers were exhausted. No one felt they’d had a vacation.
Beyond doubt the event was draining. It continues to suck up a lot of energy, as people ask, “Now what?”
Things are not back to normal. The world changes, and the idea of a thing called “normal” is in some ways a fond dream. We want shelter from the storm, and long interludes of peace, but life has a way of dislodging us.