My original intention was to write about the Boston Comic-Con. You expect that Mother Nature might throw a freak snowstorm or hurricane at you causing your con to be cancelled. You don’t expect that some horribly misguided humans will bomb a major sport event and wreak destruction on an unsuspecting town.
As you know, that is exactly what happened in Boston.
The convention organizers were set to hold the convention up to the day before it was to start. They had even arranged to donate some of the proceeds of their art auction to aid the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The Hynes Convention Center, located on Boylston Street — not far from the site of the bombings — cancelled the event, along with others scheduled for the next week or so.
Boylston Street has since been reopened to the public and there is a memorial site there now with messages and flowers placed there by local people and tourists from around the world.
It was a fluke that I even knew about the convention. When I found that I was going to be in Boston for a week while my husband and others from his lab attended Experimental Biology 2013, I looked up some science-fiction convention calendars and saw the Boston Comic-Con listing. While comics are not my biggest interest (the print in them is very difficult for me to read with my low vision), I enjoy the movies and some television series based on them. Of course, I also like seeing all the wonderful costumes you can see at a comic-con. So, I bought a weekend ticket and looked forward to getting my geek on while my husband did science-y stuff.
We arrived in Boston the Friday on which the manhunt for the second suspect in the bombings was in full swing. We were not even sure we’d be able to leave the airport once we got there. We heard while on our brief layover in Baltimore that all taxi service and mass transit had been suspended. A bit of luck was with us because taxi service had just restarted as we arrived at Logan International Airport.
Getting to our hotel in Cambridge was no problem. The trip was quick with only other taxis and police vehicles on the streets.
The police had asked that people stay indoors as much as possible. The shops and restaurants were closed in Boston proper and in surrounding areas such as Cambridge where we were staying.
Once the manhunt was over and it was deemed safe enough to venture out, some of our bunch decided to take a walk to MIT, which was not far from our hotel. We had an MIT alumnus with us who offered to show us around the campus.
Those of you who, like me, are “The Big Bang Theory” fans will recall that the character Howard Wolowitz has a master’s degree from MIT. I do have to say that the place kind of oozes geekiness, but in a good way. You almost feel as though you have to be smarter after just walking through the halls.
There is a great sculpture called The Alchemist on the lawn. Before I found out what it was really called, I thought of it as the Number Man. Being the nerds that all of us are, we had to take each others’s pictures inside the sculpture. I am not sure if it was blasphemous that I was wearing a University of South Florida sweatshirt at the time, but there you go. USF is my alma mater and that was the sweatshirt I had.
By Saturday morning, people had begun to go about their usual daily business. The shops and restaurants were open in Cambridge and we were able to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston. The T, which is comprised of trains, buses and ferries, was mostly up and running.
The slogan “Boston Strong” had begun to be used by then and in the following days, I saw it on T-shirts, hats, signs and then on the headers of the trains and buses.
It seemed to me that sometimes, the national media made out as though the people of the area were panicked and devastated but being there just doing my tourist thing, that isn’t what I saw. Residents were determined to do something to help the victims of the attack and to keep moving. Some of the merchants in the area were asking for donations to the One Fund Boston to help the victims and their families.
Over the coming months, there will be more and more said about what happened, but the message that should not be lost is that when faced with an attack on our people, we Americans do not go into hiding and stop living our lives. We do what is proper for safety’s sake but we get out and do things.
We help our own and we stand together. We are, after all, the United States of America, and the people of Boston are our people no matter which state we call home.
Just in case you have a hankering to see Boston and attend a comic-con, the Boston Comic-Con has been rescheduled to Aug. 3-4.