I never imagined, when I visited friends in Boston on April 10 of this year, that the pictures I was taking in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Back Bay transforming itself for the marathon would end up in a file labeled "Boston Before the Bombing." I came home from Boston on Saturday, April 13. What happened there on the following Monday would change the world.
Nothing can adequately describe the sorrow we all felt for the families of those injured and killed by the bombing -- for the brave people of Boston whose lives will never be the same. But, they will persevere -- as will current and future marathoners, and all current and future athletes who participate in sports that draw large crowds.
As many thousands of people did that marathon weekend, my friends and I had crossed Boyston Street many times, dodging under and around the finish line viewing stands, criss-crossing the street because of all the barricades and emergency vehicles scattered about and also passing through and shopping in the Lord & Taylor store, whose security camera eventually revealed the perpetrators of the crime. I'm sure we must have been on that very same security camera on Friday night, when we strolled into the store from the mall after dinner on the way home, not realizing that the store was closing. By the time we got from the top floor to the Boylston street-level exit, the exit doors were all locked. We had to try four doors before we finally found one that would let us out. Once outside, we spent time laughing, in full view of the camera, I'm sure, about spending the night locked in the store. And then we returned via Boylston on Friday to do some shopping in the store and walked back the same way we had come.
We were all over that section of Boylston on Wednesday and Thursday, when it was rainy and overcast, but on Friday when the weather cleared up, the city was teaming with people in jogging clothes, including many young families with babies and toddlers. The stores were all decked out with flowers, and some street peddlers, many of whom were handing out free samples of ice cream, soda or chips, were dancing, singing and joking on the sidewalks. It was a wonderfully vibrant and festive time to be there, inspiring me to take pictures.
And so I took images that reflected the mood I was feeling as we walked from Boylston over to and along Newbury Street, including photos of a candy store attracting customers with an old bike flying a British flag, a very large pot of beautiful little bell-shaped flowers that I cannot identify, a distinguished-looking mannequin-man peering out from a store window at us through an ad hoc "monacle" made of a dangling shade pull, another close-up of a lovely spring flower I can't identify, and the most wonderful robin I've ever met. She was totally aware of me when I moved to within just a few feet of her and, in fact, met my eyes and stood right up to me in a cheeky and determined sort of way. When I leaned in even closer to take pictures, Robin didn't back down -- she stood her ground, unafraid. I was so taken by this bird's attitude that I called my friend back to look at her. Even two-on-one, Robin held her ground, not giving an inch. I was amazed and impressed by this bird.
When I reviewed my pictures to write this article, that picture of the robin seemed to leap out at me as a symbol of the spirit of the people of Boston and of all of the visitors who were affected by this tragedy, who held their ground during that terrible week and did not give in to fear and intimidation. And the other pictures, taken on a beautiful spring day, I now see as a reminder that someday very soon, maybe even already, Boston will again look as carefree and happy as it was on the day when I took those pictures.
Boston will never be quite the same, but I am sure that the marathon will go on again next year, and if I am invited on that weekend again next year, I will go, too. Like the people of Boston and the little robin, it's important to stand your ground.
Lee Paine of Riverside is a professional freelance writer and photographer. She teaches, lectures and judges in the photographic field. You can visit her website at www.leepainefinephotography.com.