When Evil Comes Home.

On Monday, April 15th a bomb went off at the Boston Marathon. The news was stunning; watching it unfold in my home town was surreal. My very first thoughts, instant, when I heard about the explosion, were for a few friends from where I live now who had traveled to Boston to run the race. Both had posted updates about their excitement to run the race, or be there, and I had been waiting to hear how they did. I was excited that they would be seeing my home town, and shared that with them. Suddenly, instead, I was terrified that any one of the folks there might be in danger. I relied on social media for updates, and was infinitely relieved to hear that all of them were safe and accounted for.

image: trendmixer.com

image: trendmixer.com

After that, it began to sink in that something truly horrible had happened in the place I still call home. Like so many people, I have spent much more time this week following the news— more closely than usual. Today, it’s been hard to pull myself away from the live coverage in Boston, as mayhem set in. A police officer where my husband went to school, MIT, was murdered, and a massive manhunt brought the city of Boston to a complete standstill. Inconceivable. Even when I worked late, late shifts, so many years ago and walked out in the middle of the night… Boston was never totally still. Today it was. For those of us who have lived there, the images on TV today were truly unbelievable.

No matter where I live now, and regardless of how happy I am here, Boston will always be my first home.  It’s in my blood, and in my speech, if you know me. I swear too much; I say wicked; I love lobstah. I grew up an hour south of Boston and spent my youth looking to Boston as the place to be.  My first rock concert was with high school friends, at Boston Garden: the Doobie Brothers.  We shopped at the original Filene’s Basement, and thought we were “wicked pissah” when we went into the city for a day of Little Italy and Fanueil Hall.

I then went to college in Cambridge, across the river from the shiny city, and every chance we had, we crossed the bridge, for youthful adventures.  Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown… these places made up my world, they were my home for a very long time—at a pivotal time in my life.  Back then, I knew all the restaurants, stores, the streets in the places that are all over the news now. There was a time when I lived in an “apartment” in one of those familiar old homes, just like the suspects were hiding in. Seeing the footage of the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the startling violence and manhunt that has come after, has been shocking every day this week. It is inconceivable to imagine Boston all locked up so tight— that city I love, at a stand still.

As I watch the news today, I no longer know all of the landmarks and images that show up on my TV. Like every city, it has been changing constantly since I left, just as I have. Because I have family and very close friends who still live there, because my daughter went to college in Massachusetts, I have been back to Boston fairly frequently since I graduated from college. Watertown, the site of the manhunt today, is very familiar to me. Cambridge is filled with memories and familiar touchstones. It is where I spent my youth, where I fell in love. I spent countless hours on the campus of MIT, where so many of my friends and future husband went to school. The officer that was killed was just being born, about the time I was leaving Boston for Grad school, but his death feels a little personal… murdered in a place that brought me so much joy, and so much fun. It shocks on a level that is hard to intelligently describe.

Boston Marathon bombing Image: hothits957.cbclocal.com

Boston Marathon bombing
Image: hothits957.cbclocal.com

This is the first time in national history that an entire major U.S. city has completely shut down (no transit, every business closed, schools closed, no taxi service, nada!), in response to a terrorist or criminal act… in an effort to apprehend a suspect, who has wreaked havoc, and brought death and trauma onto an entire city—the nation. The Boston Marathon is the oldest and one of the most important marathon in the world. Difficult to qualify for, and drawing elite runners from around the world.  There were 100+ countries represented at Monday’s race. One of the women who died, was from China. Consequently, when the bombing first occurred, the coverage was international. However, throughout today, I wondered if other countries could understand Boston’s approach, it’s steely determination to bring justice.

Throughout the week, I felt mixed emotions. The part of me that is still deeply tied to Boston, anxiously watched the updates and felt the shock that so many others felt. The part of me that is a citizen of a bigger world, was aware that this event was nothing new for so many people in other parts of the world. On the same day of the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, bombings in Iraq killed 42. Today, a bombing at a cafe in Bagdad, crowded with young people, killed 26. The same grief and horror we were feeling about Boston, is felt by parents and people in those places just as profoundly. However, you could barely find those stories amidst the huge Boston headlines. This is nothing new; Americans are no different than citizens anywhere else: we notice what happens in our own back yard, more than we notice that which is happening somewhere else. “There but for the grace…” keeps us all going.

As I wrote in my post for the Outlier Collective this week (read here), many in the U.S. are still shell shocked from 9/11, and probably always will be. We have not lived with frequent acts of terrorism, as some of those other countries have. Despite the lessons of 9/11, many still believe that we are inherently safe from those things. Boston was where two of the four planes, used in 9/11, originated. It is a city that bears deep scars from that day and they faced that, as they did this event, with typical Boston strength, as well as the hindsight to not let it happen again.

image: from internet, no source given

image: from internet, no source given

I have long come to understand that my home city still carries the DNA of the Pilgrims that settled the area. It is a city that is fiercely proud and independent, a melting pot of many cultures and backgrounds. Boston pride could easily be seen as arrogance, cockiness by others; but it stems from a long and tested history.  The personalities are big, some of it  encompasses all of New England, which consists of: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, for the record. New England is where our nation began, and Bostonians are patriotic to the end; and are bold in displaying that. The Marathon occurs each year on Patriots Day… anything for a parade. We are intense on most levels.

We are loud, we are passionate, we don’t sit quietly and watch.  It is a place where strangers are strangers only until they are friends. Bostonians don’t give that away easily. But, once you’re a friend, it’s for life. Things run very deep there. “Boston Proud” is not just a Facebook status to those who live there. For those who live, or have lived, in Boston, there is a deep pride of place. We have our secret handshakes and wicked pissah secret words, and a fierce and passionate commitment to all things sports. So many years later, I know to only cheer for the Patriots, The Celtics, The Bruins— despite having lived in Chicago, the Detroit area, and now Seattle… it’s hard wired, from a youth suckled on names like Esposito, Orr, Yaz, Collins, Fisk. It is a tight knit community, and once you’re part of it, you’re always part of it. Boston takes care of its own, and that, above all else, came through this week.

I saw this Tweet today, and smiled, knowing it was so true:

Boston is probably the only major city that if you fuck with them, they will shut down the whole city…stop everything.. and find you.

Watching the intense coverage today, I was riveted. It occurred to me more than once, that 24-hour news coverage may not be a good thing, as stories broke and then were taken back. Mis-information was rampant at times. I was deeply moved to see the town of Watertown, the entire Boston area, lock themselves in and do what the police asked without complaint or whining. It was amazing to see so many police officers step up and risk their lives, to bring in two suspects who had proven themselves extremely dangerous and willing to kill anyone in their way. It was a community wide effort that ended with as little violence and loss of life as was possible, given the circumstances. It was compelling to read Facebook updates from friends there, knowing how much more intense it must be for them. Today, I felt so proud of my other home, my first home. I grieve with them as they bury those who lost their lives, and I celebrate with them as they see an end to this horrific event. I cheered the first responders, as they so enthusiastically did as well (gave me chills!).  What a week: what a day; what a city! Today, we’re all Boston Proud.

Check out this spirit! The accents, the Boston pride comes through (Stah Spangled Bannah):

Did you watch the news coverage on Friday? Are you from Boston, lived there, or have you been there? Share your thoughts.

Check out my guest post on the Outlier Collective, addressing the question: What Seminal Event from the past 20 years, has emotionally affected you, and why?  See what I picked:           http://theoutliercollective.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/what-seminal-event-from-the-past-20-years-has-emotionally-affected-you-the-most-and-why-by-tales-from-the-motherland/

Tales From the Motherland on Facebook, hit like and follow along.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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28 Responses to When Evil Comes Home.

  1. The Adam Sandler tweet is perfect. So is the, “Keep Wicked calm and carry the hell on.”
    I went to school in Beverly for a year. I love that area and the people. It’s now 9:50 pm and it’s over. The suspect has been comprehended. Only in Boston, only in Mass does something like this wrap up with such force and speed. So happy it’s over for everyone.
    Great post, Dawn.


    • Thanks Lisa! Feel like I was venting, writing as I watched today… then couldn’t do anything for a while, watching it unfold. I told Lyssa, I was stuck. I was finishing it, just as it all resolved. Amazing! Yes, only in Boston… I arrogantly believe. 🙂


  2. Susan Chase-Foster says:

    Dawn, your perspective as a Bostonian is touching and much appreciated. What an amazing bunch of citizens you are!


  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    I agree that 24-hour news coverage is not always a great thing. The potential for misinformation is huge, not to mention, coverage of one event alone shuts out everything else. As I read the newspaper this morning, I felt bad that no TV news coverage today (that I saw, anyway) was given to the brave first responders who lost their lives trying to help in the Texas fertilizer plant explosions (firefighters and EMS personnel). I worry we give far too much exposure to the bad guys–“Who is he? What was he like in school? What are his interests?”–and little to none to the true heroes. That being said, it’s wonderful that they caught the second guy. It’s mind-boggling to think that within just a few days, both guys were apprehended. Guess it’s not always such a bad thing that everyone has a cell phone. Those photos can really help in tragedies like this.


    • I believe that the mass media coverage, the Facebook reposts of the suspect’s pictures, etc really played a role in their apprehension. But yes, so many other big stories and nothing else made the news today. The story in TX is huge, and horrific… it will no doubt, now take center stage. Also agree that too much focus is on the bad guys, and not the victims. In the end, I am amazed by Boston’s chutzpah and kick ass organization. The law enforcement in Boston really did something amazing, and the spotlight was on them! Thanks for weighing in Carrie. 🙂


  4. Anonymous says:

    Great blog. Isn’t Connecticut still in New England.


  5. It always seems worse when something happens to a place we’re familiar with. How I felt about Newton, CT. Of course, being from New England, living close to and in and out of NYC all the time, I’ve felt connected to way too many of these events.


    • No doubt! Again, when it’s in our own back yard… While Boston seemed so huge, imagine how the people of West, TX felt these past few days, with all the focus there… and their town devastated! This week has been stunning for sure! Thanks, as always, Lisa!


  6. I’ve heard so many Bostonians say that they picked the wrong city. Boston will be stronger than ever – Bunker Hill is a testament to that spirit!


    • It’s hard to say what other cities would have done, and I’d bring a world of criticism to imply that they would not do the same… but, I do think Boston is a very different city. There’s something in the watah. 😉 Bunker Hill is definitely one of the many iconic images that show the Boston spirit, but it lives most passionately in the people! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post Renee. I hope you’ll check out some others and weigh in.


  7. I know that fierce patriotic, New England swagger having gone to college there and lived in the Berkshires as a young bride, raising my young children in Pittsfield MA. In fact, my first job in the 60s was working for an Armenian pediatrician in Watertown. His house, with an office downstairs and his whole family upstairs looked just like that neighborhood. I took the trolley, and had “jimmies” on my ice cream cones. I still have an old tee shirt from a neighboring town that said, “welcome to Dalton, now go home.” Very well said!


    • Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment. It’s true, we come off as arrogant, so often… and I suppose we are, but our hearts are truly in it. I think that’s what really came through this week. I may not live there anymore, but it will always be a big part of who I am. Thanks for taking the time. 🙂


      • I didn’t mean for New Englanders to sound “arrogant.” In fact, in watching the aftermath when the MA attorney general was asked if she would pursue the death penalty, I thought MA doesn’t have a death penalty. It’s not so much arrogance, as it is just decency and common sense coupled with an aggressive pursuit of justice. I was proud that MA was the only state in the country not to vote for Nixon after all!! I feel like an adopted New Englander and would still be living there if my hubby handed dragged me kicking and screaming south!


        • No, I called it arrogant sounding, not you. 😉 I think our swagger DOES come off as arrogant to many, but there’s so much more behind it. I left kicking and screaming as well… why do we let our men do that? Thanks for clarifying, but I got your point… Didn’t mean to muddy the waters but extrapolating my own theories from the accurate word: swagger. 🙂


  8. Dawn,
    Phenomenal post. It has been a crazy, surreal week here. The misinformation was coming out so quick the news stations hardly had time to retract it before releasing more. I remember being transfixed by the OJ Simpson chase, but this was incredible.to watch. And you’re right, once this place is home, it’s always home.


    • Thanks Bill! I was writing it as I watched… and then things would change and I’d be editing and re-editing. Finally, the suspect was found and I just had to finish that post… I was buzzing! I missed the whole OJ thing. Literally. I was overseas, and didn’t see any of it until replays later. I would have been the perfect juror, as I knew so little! I’d been a big fan of OJ as a kid, and now that is inconceivable to me. The events of Friday were totally riveting. I felt like a news junky for sure, but oh how exciting! Thanks for taking the time to read and share. Much appreciated.


  9. etomczyk says:

    Dawn: So sorry to read that this craziness was happening to your home town. It was hard enough dealing with hearing about it and I only visited once! But I am proud of Boston and grateful for its overcoming spirit and small town feel that helped them band together to overcome this evil. You must be “wicked proud” of your first responders and all the Bostonians who stepped up to the plate and did such a stellar job of caring for the wounded and their families.


    • Amazing on every level Eleanor! It was remarkable from start to finish… more than 5,000 people offering their homes to marathoners, post marathon; the 1st responders; the victims… so many amazing acts of human kindness, strength, courage, grace. Wicked proud indeed! Thanks E.


  10. Lyssapants says:

    Very thoughtful post. After all that suspense on Friday, I didn’t even turn on the TV at all on Saturday and it felt really good.


  11. Hudson Howl says:

    ‘Wicked’ -you know I never quite knew the significance of the word to a Bostonian and New Englanders until a truly good friend filled me in. Am Canadian so by default we don’t get out of the igloo all that much an appear a tad slow on the uptake. When this first occurred the first news source I went to was WickedLocal dot com.

    I know Boston is a vibrant, thriving, refined and grounded city, to the point of being culturally different than other parts of the United States. To say they have strong roots would be an understatement – it was incredibly surreal to see the city vacant on Friday. That must have been a sombre day for them in addition to everything else.


    • It’s funny how ingrained that word is, if you’re from Boston. My kids grew up here on the West Coast and they think it’s funny how I say wicked about some things. I saw a neighbor a few years ago, mowing the lawn and doing some really big jobs, in a bathing suit. I smiled and said, “What a wicked woman you are!” It was a compliment but she looked put out and disturbed. Later, I had to explain myself. I love WickedLocal.. good source for all things New England. Thanks so much for stepping out of the igloo, to check out my post. I hope you’ll stop back.


  12. eileenvhunt says:

    Dawn, it’s still difficult to think about this. I had thoughts of rage that I would not repeat to anyone I shocked myself so. I’m totally against all violence (I’m still traumatized by spanking my nephew over 30 years ago – the only time I raised a hand) but I found myself thinking about buying a gun. I’m suddenly aware that I am able to act like a gentle human, love others and experience unrepressed joy because I’ve been protected from unthinkable violence like this. I thought I had evolved beyond pride of place but a bomb changes things at a primal level. Suddenly I remember all of the things I treasure about our fair city; the memories, the people I love, my entire life. Suddenly I’m angry beyond consolation. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been the one who found that murderer in the boat. I know as well as anyone that kindness and compassion are the most beautiful of all human qualities but I don’t want to give anything of the kind to this bomber. He took far more than 3 lives on the 15th of this month. I don’t want to hear why he did what he did, how much his mother loves him or how difficult his childhood was. To be completely honest I don’t want to pay for him to live a cozy life in a Boston prison cell. Frankly I’d prefer to hear that he is dead and I’m surprised that they told people where he’s hospitalized. I want his name wiped from history and I’d do anything to remove the faces of his victims from my memory. I was told that the scene of the 2nd bomb was far worse that anything that was published by the media. I can only assume that no pictures were taken or released because the horror literally broke the hearts and the minds of all witnesses. I want time to pass and memory to fade. Thanks for this post.


    • I understand your rage E. I think a lot of people share it with you. Perhaps it is because of the physical distance, though I doubt it, but I continue to work on compassion for all involved… including the boy who survived. Honestly, it’s a struggle. I have seen some pretty graphic photos on line, and I’m sure there are many more. Here in the states, we are spared the really ugly part of such scenes…. while overseas, I am always shocked by the intensely graphic photos in papers, magazines, on TV. It does make things different for us. I really understand your pain and anger. I hope we can all find some peace around this… I do feel humbled by the grace and strength so many people have shown, and did show all week—but Friday was truly remarkable. Hugs.



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