Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

Shell-shocked, the morning after

A week ago as I write these words, I was fighting off tears and realizing that I desperately need to be reaching out to my friends instead of trying to cope solo with all the stuff going on in my life.

Then in the middle of writing my first substantive what's going on in my life LJ in — I don't know, probably a year or more — the world went crazy. Or perhaps more accurately, what have for most people throughout most of history been normal levels of physical danger suddenly moved out of the news headlines and history books, and took up residence just down the river. And I found myself forcibly reminded of the wisdom of Rick in Casablanca.1

After the pointless slaughter of two young women and a little boy, and maiming of over a hundred others just down the river, it was hard to imagine things could get weirder. Boy was I wrong.

Friday morning, I came in to work early. Only to receive email from our CEO, Subject: "Cambridge is shut down for the am," telling us to stay home until the all clear was given. So I tried to figure out what was going on that would prompt that. An hour later, I understood in a way I could never have imagined that the fog of war is a real and impenetrable thing. And decided that I would shelter in place at work until ... something.

Among the apparent facts that I learned in that hour, the true ones included:
  • An MIT CP2
    • had been shot
    • fatally
    • outside a building I used to work in
  • The two terrorists
    • lived in Cambridge
    • on a block where I've visited various friends at least a half-dozen times over the years
  • There'd been a firefight
    • in which one terrorist was killed
    • just down the street from my favorite restaurant when I lived in Watertown
    • a block I'd just driven down on Tuesday, after stopping a couple of blocks away to look over a place with a "For Rent" sign.
Nothing in my life has prepared me to have this sort of distance (or rather, absence of distance) from this sort of event. So when the news came that the second suspect had been captured, I wanted nothing more than to do something ordinary. I called an old friend and we agreed to meet for dinner. Driving to her place, I saw lots of people out walking in the only slightly blustery spring weather. Waiting outside her building, I watched a half-dozen kids play basketball clumsily but enthusiastically in the park. When we got to the restaurant, in a neighboring town that had not been shut down for the day (Arlington), it was packed.

While waiting for our order, she asked and I briefly summarized the half-written LJ post the bombing interrupted me in the middle of. Which led her to offer a rather biting comic summary of where I find myself right now, along the lines of Dear world: could you please hold off a couple of weeks on the earth-shattering crises? I'm kinda busy with my own problems, and stretched a little thin. 'kay? Thanks!

So, lord willing and the creek don't rise, in my next post I will be returning to my regular life problems, if rather a backlog of them, and too many with looming deadlines. After this week, it will be a positive relief to get back to normal anxieties.

1  "... it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." And I'm just one little person.

2  MIT Campus Police officer Sean Collier, an exemplary officer by all reports, and, as doesn't always happen, genuinely part of our community I'm not much of a funeral-goer, especially not for people I didn't know personally: I always feel like my presence would be an intrusion. But if there's a memorial for the MIT community, I'll be there.
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