Almost eight months ago, I packed up my bags and left the great city of Columbus, Ohio to begin a new journey. I was excited and nervous, but prepared to start a new chapter in my life; I was ready to experience the real world and all it has to offer. It seems like yesterday my mom was making my bed for me, and I was putting up posters in my room like every other college kid. But after that, my freshman year experience has been far different than I had ever imagined, and one that I will always remember.
Patriot’s Day is one of the most storied holidays in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and something I had been looking forward to all year. It’s a day to celebrate, remember, and enjoy as you watch thousands of runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon. One of the greatest traditions in all of sports, the Boston Marathon is older than the Olympics, and is one of the highlights of the Boston Calendar.
As a college kid, Marathon Monday is the day you wait for all year. Everyone tells you how amazing an experience it is, and how blessed you feel to be apart of it. You come to school to get an education, but you come to Boston for the memories and unique traditions that no other city has to offer. I, like every other freshman in the city of Boston, was expecting to take part in my first Marathon Monday and enjoy the fruits of being a kid in Boston. But just when I thought everything was perfect, it all took a turn for the worst.
It was all too perfect. The weather was beautiful. The breeze was light. The temperature was the warmest it had been in weeks. I was having the perfect day. Spending time with my friends, enjoying the day, and taking in everything that was happening around me.
But when everything is perfect, that is when the storm hits. When you least expect it, that is when terror strikes. When happiness is upon is, that is when hatred attacks us. Maybe I was too naïve to believe that on my first Marathon Monday, terror would strike so close to me. How could someone have the power within them to do such an evil thing? Why do terrible things happen to good, innocent people?
I was in Kenmore Square trying to cross the street when I heard there was a bombing at the finish line of the Marathon. At first, I didn’t make anything of it; how can you? This is supposed to be the best day of the year, and someone wants to ruin something I’ve been waiting for since the day I came to Boston? It didn’t really hit me that something had happened until I started receiving text messages from friends back home, who had more knowledge of the attack than I did. “What the hell is going on?” I thought to myself. Than before I knew it, I looked at a TV and saw it for myself; it was real, and I was right in the middle of it.
There are few moments in a person’s life when one questions whether he or she will live to see the next day. I had never experienced that feeling before in my life. But on that Monday, for the first time in my life, I didn’t know where I would be the next day; that’s a feeling I will never forget, and hope to never experience again. We were all huddled by the TV, trying to solve the mystery of the Marathon Bombings, all while calling and texting our friends and family to tell them we were safe and okay. After a day of joy and terror, I went to sleep trying to come to terms with what had occurred on my first Marathon Monday. The city was in shambles, everything was in chaos, and the little freshman my parents sent off to college eight months ago, was long gone.
The week went by quickly. I had confidence in the justice system, and I knew that sooner rather than later, the people responsible for this crime would be brought to justice. What I didn’t know or expect, was the shootout and rage of terror this city would face on the Friday after the Marathon.
I went to bed knowing that someone was shot at MIT, but when I woke up, I was in shock to learn that the entire city was on complete lockdown; I couldn’t even leave my dorm. After a day of watching copious amounts of CNN and local coverage of what turned out to be a manhunt for the suspected bomber, we were all ready to see the terror come to an end. At eight o’clock, finally, after a full day on lockdown and fear of the unknown, the dawn had come; the suspected bomber of the Marathon Bombings was in custody, and peace had been restored to the greatest city in America.
But just when the day couldn’t get any crazier, it had only just begun. What started as a celebration between a few friends at BU, turned into thousands of college kids celebrating the resilience of their city in the Boston Commons. I never thought I’d be shouting “BPD,” but there I was, front and center, as proud as ever to say I live in this city.
My freshman of year of college has taught me many things. But the most important lesson I’ve learned in my time thus far is to cherish the moments and memories that you make in life. Life is short. Enjoy everything this world has to offer. Embrace the people who care about you, and live every day like it’s your last. This has been the greatest year of my life, and moments like these are what make me realize how strong a people Bostonians are. Be strong, stay strong, and always remember to see the world with a new lens.