We are still under lockdown in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as I write. It has been a surreal week. First the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon, and now a massive manhunt that has everyone hunkered down indoors. Police sirens disturbed last night’s sleep. But it wasn’t until we woke that the news of disturbing developments fully penetrated. Looking out my window now, I see a major thoroughfare that typically teems with rush-hour traffic, preoccupied students, and jaunty dog walkers. But I haven’t spotted a single pedestrian or car all day other than occasional police cruisers.
My family and friends are inside our separate homes, but we’re connecting by phone and online to express our dismay. Everyone sounds dazed. It’s mid-afternoon but the skies have darkened with clouds. A gloom has blown in and coats the neighborhood. Sapling branches shiver in the wind. Their young leaves curl into tight green fists.
I don’t want to watch another replay of the crackling pops that lit up nearby Watertown like an early display of July 4 fireworks. The television keeps showing the local diner, hardware store, and other shops only a half-mile away that I frequent. How strange that these familiar and typically unremarkable sights are now cordoned off behind yellow police tape and their images being beamed across the world where everyone is gazing at them agape.
I turned off the news for a couple hours. The trill is unnerving. Instead I’m writing about food and flea markets because it’s comforting to imagine walking outdoors among stalls, admiring the goods, and not giving a second thought to safety.
My heart goes out to the people of my city whose lives have been cut short, whose limbs have been lost, and whose nerves are on edge. My profound thanks goes out to all the people who are working hard to protect us and, quite literally, heal the wounds. Envisioning the colorful markets helps me. Imagine whatever you will. But together let’s keep our joy and compassion bright.