Never in my four years living in Boston have I seen anything remotely like this. Walking up Commonwealth Avenue through the heart of Boston University’s campus this morning was an eerie experience. On a sunny Tuesday when the campus, and city of Boston, would usually be buzzing with activity, a sombre silence rings through the streets filled with garbage leftover from yesterday’s tragedy. In a city where cleanliness goes without question, trashcans are overflowing with cups, marathon space blankets are blowing around and gutters are filled with miscellaneous items left behind after the explosions caused widespread chaos on one of the most well-known streets.
Amid the ghost town-like city, Boston University graduate Brooke Hunter found the words that I could not when she described the town as “feeling hollow.” The sound of sirens still whizz by on a regular basis, drowning out the silence momentarily. Languages from every corner of the earth are heard at every street corner on my walk down Newbury street, which runs parallel to the route I know all too well, bringing back into perspective the global community united during the marathon every year. Armed police and military personnel are standing guard at every cross street, giving me the overwhelming urge to want to hug and thank them out of pure confusion. Getting on the T (Boston’s public transportation) to return to university I am greeted by an array of security officials, including a K-9 unit, three military men, two armed police and a sheriff, eyeing each and every single person who taps their Charlie Card to board the train home. Boston University senior and personal friend Laila Khan, described our trip to the Arlington Station as one “that finally made the whole thing feel real.” She said “it was the first time all day [she] actually felt scared” to be where we were.
Yesterday was a day that started off beautifully; the sun was shining, laughter could be heard and BU students filled the streets of our beloved city campus eager to celebrate the holiday. Waves of students flocked to Beacon Street and Kenmore Square to cheer on runners, less than a mile away from the finish line. As someone who reached my limit early on during the daylong party, I was abruptly woken up from a nap at 4pm by a frantic roommate and thrust into the reality that was my last collegiate Marathon Monday. Overcome with tears as each of my roommates and friends entered my apartment, we watched together the news that would forever change the city we have grown to love over the past four years. From my window, I watched countless emergency response vehicles fly down the Mass Pike during all hours of the night, each time reminding me of how lucky my friends and I were that we did not achieve our goal for the day to make it to the finish line for our last marathon.
With every tragic story that comes out of yesterday comes even more inspiring stories of how the Boston community is coming together to help and support each other during this time of need. Whether it be the amazing stories of those who ran to donate blood, the Google Doc of Bostonians who offered shelter to those displaced, or the overwhelming number of people I counted on my walk today wearing Boston clothing, the residents of Boston are coming together and showing their pride for the amazing city they call home.