On Friday, I had planned to take the day off work. Emily and I were going to head into Boston in the morning to take pictures, and then go to Amanda’s dissertation defense in the afternoon. Right before I went to bed, we talked on the phone about what a positive day it would be, after an overwhelming, crazy week. I was excited to be able to sleep in until 7:00, which shows what an exciting life I lead.
At 6:50, I woke up to my phone ringing. I remember thinking, “Man, what are the odds? Ten minutes before I have to wake up?” before realizing that anytime the phone wakes you up, it’s probably bad news. It was the police chief telling us to stay inside during the manhunt and not to open our doors unless there was an identified police officer there. MANHUNT?
I had several text messages, all from friends asking what was going on. I had no idea. Let’s just say that I don’t have any pending job offers from CNN. I texted one of them back and asked HER what was going on, as I was turning on the news. One suspect was dead and the other was on the run. The governor shut down Boston and all surrounding towns.
“Your city is on the list, and you have to stay inside,” she told me. “And they’re doing door-to-door house searches.”
“What? Should I put pants on?”
“Yes. Put pants on.”
In my defense, let me remind you that I had been asleep. Oh, like you’re so perfect.
As it turned out, they were only doing door-to-door searches in the next town, where they felt confident the suspect was (and, SPOILER ALERT, they were right!). Another spoiler: I put pants on. And then proceeded to watch TV for 13 hours.
Something funny happens when this sort of thing shows up on everyone’s TV screen:
Everyone who didn’t live in one of those places contacted everyone that they know in one of those places. Just like Monday, it was very sweet, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic for those of us not in Watertown. I’ll be honest, initially my reaction was, “IS HE…IS HE BEHIND ME RIGHT NOW?” Hours later, it was pretty clear that we weren’t exactly in the line of fire. And by not exactly I mean NOT REMOTELY. There were roadblocks, a few helicopters, and the occasional siren, but they were in the next town. There was a whole lot of waiting around and TV-watching going on. Of course, being stir crazy was a good problem to have that day, given the possibilities.
Incidentally, the comments on the news about Watertown being a “small, ideal New England hamlet” were pretty funny. Pretty much everyone I know lived in Watertown after college. When I lived there, my neighbor used to park on her lawn and had a sticker on her front door telling people not to bother her. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it there, and I have great memories. But not of a SMALL, IDEAL NEW ENGLAND HAMLET.
Luckily, one of my friends was courteous enough to join me in getting shelter in placed. His work closed early and he came over to stare at the television and decline playing a modified two-player version of Left Right Center with me. (We could’ve played it WHILE watching TV. Sheesh.)
Around 3:00, he went upstairs to take a shower. I was ready for a change of scenery, so I decided to go for a run, a quick 20 minutes after being stuck in the house for eight hours. I was back before he even came back downstairs. No big deal, right?
HOLY CRAP, I’m surprised that it didn’t break into the already breaking news.
“I’m going to go take a shower, too. I just went for a run.”
“Cool. Wait, you what?”
I heard several different versions of this over the course of the day:
“How’s it going?”
“Weird, but fine. Just stuck at home. Went for a quick run. You?”
“WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL, RED. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO STAY INSIDE.”
And my family, forget it. This story will be told until the end of time. There are already jokes. You’d think I ran by the boat, instead of around the block. My mom’s final two cents: “And I don’t think you should even be running AT ALL! You come from a family with bad knees, you know.”
I don’t mean to stand so firmly by my run, but I sort of do. My city was CRICKETS, you guys. And I gave it eight hours. The shelter in place was lifted altogether a few hours later. I refuse to see this as wholly irresponsible of me. But at the same time, I can’t not laugh at “Hey Red, I saw you slow jogging from the aerial shot on the news. Good form!”
I think I’ll just interpret the freak-outs from loved ones as a sign of concern. But at the end of the day, isn’t anyone impressed by my dedication to physical fitness?
For what it’s worth, I spent the rest of the day eating almond M&Ms.