One week ago today I was, along with the rest of Boston, on lockdown. Told to stay indoors by the Governor, we obliged feeling not entirely unsafe. Close, yet far enough away from the commotion in Watertown, there was a certain “calm excitement”. It was, however, (and if one chose to think about it) nearly unfathomable that the scene being played over and over (and over) on live, commercial-free television was taking place on the very street that houses “my” Target. I saw my car dealership repeatedly in camera shots. Yet here, in the house, it almost felt like a snow day…minus, of course, the snow. There was some baking, some wine drinking, some cleaning and some (okay, a lot of) television watching. But for the robo-calls and repeated television announcements imploring (although stopping short of requiring) everyone to stay indoors, it was a fairly regular day. Until, that is, our collective family rooms were filled with the unforgettable sound of helicopters overhead and rapid gunfire being aired on a repeat loop on every television station. It was no longer a hang around, chill out kinda snow day. This shit was getting real.
It wasn’t until the next morning, however, after it was all said and done and the second suspect had been captured, that my anxiety and testiness (my mother’s word) began to rear its head. I felt physically shaky: as though I could feel every drop of blood in my body swooshing around desperately seeking a reservoir in which to pool and relax. I was shorter tempered than normal (although not short-tempered per say) and felt betrayed by the (now seemingly false) sense of security that had oozed its way back into our everyday lives after the attacks of September 11. The World Trade Center was one thing, real but not in my backyard…but the streets of Boston during our most heralded tradition first and then Watertown, the quintessential working class Boston neighborhood next? Nearly impossible to reconcile.
In the week that has passed since Friday, I have been acutely aware of anxiety and fear showing in many forms: most not immediately obvious as such. For one, Jessie’s bedtime ritual has been riddled with stalling and leaving lights on the likes of which I had not seen in some time. A (very grounded, centered and psychologically aware) friend called me this morning while weeping outside of the yoga studio where she had just gotten in touch (theoretically, anyway) with her inner Namaste. Interpersonal exchanges seem to fall squarely into one of two camps: warm, loving and wonderful or aggressive and belligerent with no middle ground. People are either extending or closing themselves off from life as we knew it BAF (before April 15th). Things simply are not the same.
I know all about life changing without warning. Everyone does, just some more than others. Living with the knowledge that there is little (if anything) that we can truly rely on in our everyday lives makes us live differently. For some, the choice is to go bigger and broader, for others, the opposite. It doesn’t much matter, actually. What matters is being aware of it and attempting (hopefully not in vain) to manage the anxiety, the fear and muster the strength needed to power through.
There are days that I have that all wrapped up. I can power with the best of ‘em and embrace whatever lands in my path, no matter how nebulous its ramifications. There are other days, however, that I can literally feel my blood coursing through my body and the tears erupting without warning. This time it was a bomb in Boston, but it could have (and has) been a bad diagnosis, a struggling child, an ailing parent, a falling x-ray machine or a wooden toy falling on top of one’s foot all arriving uninvited and without warning.
None of us knows what lies around the next bend or how we will respond to it, but we are all better served to be aware of our own M.O. and to appreciate the experience and what it teaches us. If nothing else, I have learned that I am only in trouble when I show signs of having lost my sense of humor. I have come dangerously close to crossing that threshold (more than once) over the past few years. Knowing that it would signal the beginning of the end, I have managed (with shit tons of support) to not go there. If I can do it…so can you.
One week ago today I was, along with the rest of Boston, on lockdown. The seven days since have not been great. But the seven days ahead might just be.