A Taste of Northern Comfort

My personal world had been a little crazy for years now.  The day-to-day has brought, along with the same challenges we all face, a host of particularly unique issues, many of which I have shared.  Throughout each ordeal I have sought out varying avenues by which to cope: shopping, eating, not eating (that one didn’t last longer than an hour or so) exercising, writing, shutting down.  You name it, I’ve tried it.  I’ve sought comfort from wherever it might be hiding, hoping against hope, to find the elusive solace we all crave.

This week, I was one of those folks in lockdown as two angry, misguided, dangerous, disgraceful, clearly unstable assholes er, young men, started their day by detonating two bombs at The Boston Marathon. Then, in an apparent need for more (more what: carnage? death? fame?) took their show on the road shooting and killing an officer at MIT, maiming a transit officer and doing everything in their power to terrorize not just the City of Watertown, but the entire Boston area.  I know no one personally who was hurt…physically, that is.  As for the psychological hit?  Everyone got that one.

I work at The Container Store.  For the uninformed (read: those not fortunate enough to have one in their area), we carry everything one could possibly imagine (and an equal amount of items you could not even imagine, but do so need) to organize your home. No, make that your life.  When I arrived for my shift mid afternoon on Saturday (along with everything else in Boston, it was closed for the duration of the lockdown) the store was crazy busy.  At first blush it struck me odd: why were all these people, on the heels of the insanity of the week we’d just endured, filling their carts to the brim with containers and solutions and boxes and shelving?  What was wrong with us all: had we already forgotten what had happened?  But as I tossed that idea around in my head, it immediately struck me: everyone was simply trying to feel some control…even if only over their spice rack.  And I cannot say I blame them.

All day long during the lockdown I was trolling Facebook.  If I wasn’t following the newsfeed on my laptop, I was checking it on my Kindle.  Or my phone.  I had the news on, too: flipping between the three local stations and CNN.  I hopped over to boston.com and aol.com, but was more interested in what my friends were saying and sharing than listening to the media.  In whatever form, I simply couldn’t step away from the onslaught of, if we are being truthful, no new information.  About halfway through the afternoon I noticed on the sidebar of (the now public, read: ad-ridden) Facebook, a suggestion for a shoe I might like based, I am assuming, on my (many) previous searches on Zappos.  In the matter of about fifteen seconds, I clicked on the image, scrolled down to my size, added it to my cart and checked out.  I needed comfort, dammit, and I was gonna get it.

I felt better, if only for a moment.  I anticipate feeling better again when the shoes arrive in the familiar black and white box, although I do wonder if I will forever associate the neutral toned wedges with a day that will be etched in my memory just as 9/11 is.  Who knew a pair of (totally cute) shoes could hold so much weight?  Who knew that the desperate need for comfort would run so deep?

I updated my Facebook status at around 4:00 that day:

I am not a religious person. In fact, I am a strictly High Holiday gal. That said, I want to go to services tomorrow morning – just for the calm and community. This is so surreal, insane and alienating. 

Moments later, I began getting texts, phone calls and emails offering to attend with me (some of those offering aren’t even Jewish!) We were all in need of something other than the news which was unfolding down the street.  We all needed comfort.  As I climbed into bed later that night, having just learned that asshole suspect #2 was apprehended I couldn’t bear the silence in my room.  I clicked the television on and aggressively searched for a station that was oblivious to the unraveling of the world, ultimately landing on an episode of “The Nanny”.  It was all I could handle. (Aside: The following morning I did not wind up going to services.  I did, however, go to my gym, which happens to be a JCC (so it was kinda like going to services, just different attire) only to discover that it was so crowded that I had to park in Siberia.  Methinks I was surrounded by others seeking solace.)

Today, nearly two days after the nightmare ended, I still see unending signs of comfort-seeking.  In the early afternoon I pulled into the parking lot of the supermarket to purchase ingredients for what I consider one of the ultimate comfort foods (chili) to find the place mobbed.  It was a beautiful afternoon, one which would normally find the Boston faithful running around one of the many reservoirs or the Charles relishing the sun (that we haven’t seen all winter) and the warmer temperatures, saving their marketing for later in the day.  Instead, seemingly every single person on the planet was at the grocery store, filling their carts the way they do in anticipation of the next snow storm…not for fear of being locked down again, but, in my estimation, as a means to gain the elusive control we all want to sorta kinda feel like we have.  Having sustenance would make everyone feel better, in control of, if nothing else, their ability to pig out.  People were happily bumping into friends and acquaintances, stopping to talk.  Really talk.  To connect and laugh.  (Oh, that was me.  It took me three times longer to do my shopping than it should have having been fortunate enough to run into several people I know, not wanting to end the chatter and the connection.)


I personally have not heard a lot of discussion about the specifics of Marathon week.  That could be a reflection of the people I surround myself with.  Or it could be indicative of the exhaustion we are all attempting to conquer.  “My” people seem to be less interested in talking about it and more interested in connecting.  They are exercising, they are shopping and they are eating (or not eating, which, frankly, I still cannot understand.)  Some, I suspect, are doing as I have done and are writing while others are shutting down.  All acceptable as far as I am concerned as long as it is brings them (us, you, me) closer to peace.

If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

–          Lao Tzu

12 thoughts on “A Taste of Northern Comfort

      • No, I think motherfucker is a perfect description. Along with devil’s spawn. I personally am eating my way through the trauma and I don’t live anywhere near Boston. Glad you’re all safe!

  1. Jul- motherfucker would have been perfectly fine. After all, David Ortiz said “this is our fucking city” on national tv yesterday. I think you needed pretzel hugs for dessert with that chili!!!!

  2. I made homemade cinnamon buns….a damn 2,day project…but boy it provided me some comfort. I also online shopped. I was so angry to hear the news casters saying what a nice boy suspect number one was. I had to shut it off…i couldnt deal with it. All I can say….and I am not a religious jew…is God…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. My prayers are with those poor familes…not that “nice” boy. Shame on them for broadcasting that. Now….tomorrow I have to answer unanswerable questions my kindergarteners and first graders are going to ask

  3. After hearing explosions late Thursday night, staying up all night listening to the police scanner, being in lock down with you and the rest of Boston on Friday as we live in Cambridge 4 streets over from where those two f—–s were living, and then sleeping soundly (sort of?) on Friday night, Saturday found myself and my girlfriend wanting our absolute favorite comfort food – frozen yogurt with fruit and moschi. There are a ton of places to get that treat in Cambridge, but there’s only one froyo place that we will go to, and that’s the one in Coolidge Corner. So we jumped in the car, rode down Mem Drive with the windows down, enjoying the air and the view of the city. We found the one quarter in our entire car to use at a meter on Beacon and hurried to the froyo place, only to find the windows covered with white paper. They are renovating. 😦

    So we settled for JP Licks and they even had their own version of froyo. Not quite the same, but the adventure to Brookline and being able to enjoy the sun and fresh air and “normalcy” was worth it. 🙂

      • Funny you mention it, after we got back in the car and ate our consolation yogurt, we were driving away and saw 16 Handles! We will have to try it out next time. Thanks for the tip!

  4. The one good thing about crises is that they seem to bring us together… A lot of the time we are in our own worlds, worrying about our own selves, but when something like this happens we all want to reach out and touch each other and say, “Are you okay?”

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