The Brazenness of Wind, The Comfort of Silence

I haven’t fully figured out what I want to say here tonight, but I know I want to say something.

First, because the names of the victims must always be more important than the names of the perpetrators (while noting that the Tsarnaev brothers are still officially alleged perpetrators), the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing are Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester, Krystle M. Campbell, 29, of Arlington, and Lingzi Lu, 23, of Shenyang, China. And, MIT police Officer Sean Collier, 26, was shot and killed Thursday night at MIT. 

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I spent almost all of Thursday night listening to the police scanner, watching WBZ, and reading The Boston Globe on line, and looking for updates of Twitter. I live on a side street, but I could see the police cars speeding down the next main street down, sending spurts of blue light to my street.

I spent Friday on lockdown, listening to WBUR, and reading the Boston Globe. At some point, I had to give up on Twitter, and then for a bit, I had to turn off the news. There hadn’t been new information for a long time, and the constant news diet was exhausting and draining.

But on Friday night, at a low-key dinner with friends who live around the corner, after the lockdown was lifted, I kept wandering back to the television. And then it was confirmed:  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in custody. When I got back to my apartment, my roommates and I discovered that the radio we had left on was actually on a timer, so it was silent in our apartment.

I was far enough from the scenes that  I hadn’t heard a lot of sirens on Thursday night and Friday, but the silence in our apartment late Friday night–without the news on, with the lightness that came from  knowing Tsarnaev was in custody–was palpable.

I could hear the wind, and it seemed both comfortingly familiar and shockingly new. And the word brazen popped into my head.

Cities that literally had been shut down would come to life again and move forward. Our hearts were torn, and our sense of security would be shattered, and for many the path to recovery will be long and painful.  But we would walk our streets again, attend sports games, go shopping, and go out to dinner.

Throughout it all, the wind had been blowing, but only now–the first time since Monday afternoon that I was in my apartment with both my radio and computer turned off–did I notice it. And the  wind, in its complete normalcy, its constancy, its lack of awareness of the terribleness of the week, sounded like a declaration of defiance, of above-it-all-ness, of brazenness. Which is something I needed to hear at that moment.

In so many ways we are still not OK. It will take a very long time for that to happen, and for the families of the victims and for the injured that day may never fully arrive.

In the weeks and months that follow, there will be tears, and arguments, and debates–about media, about the role of the Internet, about civil liberties and terrorism. But on Friday night, the wind died down, and as I fell asleep there was silence, not the eerie silence from empty streets. But the silence of a city feeling a tiny bit safer.

 Photo of Boylston Street by Flickr user toddmundt http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddmundt/8664495840/ Some rights reserved

Photo of 200 Newbury  Street by Flickr user toddmundt http://www.flickr.com/photos/toddmundt/8664495840/ Some rights reserved

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