Opinion: One freshman's account of Marathon Monday

Waking up Monday, I was expecting the best day of the year. On the walk to Main Campus from Newton, there were street vendors selling food and balloons, kids jumping in bounce houses, and families setting up on their lawns. All along Comm. Ave people settled to watch the marathon runners. We united as a city for one day.

As runners passed Boston College, it did not matter if they were from abroad or Boston University because I cheered for them until my voice gave out and high fived them until I fell off the railing. People around me screamed for everyone to continue. They called “Keep going! You've got this!” to complete strangers who passed Heartbreak Hill. For the first time, it did not matter where a person was from, because everyone became a Bostonian during the marathon.

BC students running past St. Ignatius Photo taken by Christie Merino

BC students running past St. Ignatius.
Photo by Christie Merino/Gavel Media

I made my way back and forth between Comm Ave. to Lower in the morning, but the most fascinating sight was seeing that Beans, Creams and Dreams (a.k.a. The Shack) actually exists. Then, around 2:00 p.m., my friends and I decided to make the trek back to Newton. As we began to depart the bustling crowd in Lower, I would have thought it was Late Night on a Friday until everyone shushed and gathered around the television.

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When I saw, “Breaking News: Explosions detonate at Boston Marathon,” I could not believe it. A boy standing next to me turned and said, “Two bombs near the finish line? That has to be a terrorist attack,” but I still refused to believe the news. I walked down Boylston Street two days prior. I saw people set up for the marathon. I passed the Marathon Sports store and probably also passed the trashcan from which the bomb exploded.

Then, a crowd started to form around the television in Lower while the story developed. One girl even made her way through the crowd to put her cross on the television. CNN had just broke the news, but I started receiving texts from friends who asked, “There was an explosion in Boston? Are you okay?” I was not running, but receiving these texts made the experience feel even more surreal because I was five miles away from a terrorist attack.

The closest I had ever been to an event of this nature was 9/11, but I was only 6 years old at the time. I did not understand the terrorism of 9/11, and, over a decade later at 18 years old, I could not understand Monday’s terrorism either. I barely had the words to describe how I felt because it did not seem real. In a few moments, a happy day became somber.

After leaving Lower, the walk back to Newton was not as exciting as the walk that morning. There were no more families on their lawns or vendors on the street. Marathon crew members were cleaning up debris. Runners were wrapped in heat blankets. The marathon utopia became a dystopia.

One of my friends noted that Comm. Ave. would have seemed like the aftermath of a party from the cups and wrappers in the streets. I thought, “Wow, he is right. Everything had been a party until the explosions.”

Seeing kids in bounce houses near Centre Street while walking back, I thought they were lucky. They were as unsuspecting as I was on September 11. The events on Monday were very real and very close to home because I knew people running and had family working downtown. Had I been home fifty miles away in Rhode Island, I would have thought, “How terrible.” However, being five miles away made me think, “Wow. This is unbelievable.

Boston has always been a part of my life, but now Boston is my city. As Boston College students, Boston is our home and a blow to the city is a blow to us as well. We will not stand for that. Despite the somber mood, Boston College united to rebound from the terror. I hope it does not take times of terror for people to appreciate and look out for each other, but seeing how caring people were towards each other emphasized the “we” in “We are BC.” I saw people’s concern, but more importantly, I felt it. We are Boston strong.

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