A Voyeur to a Moment of Real Life

I take things for granted.  I think that’s part of the Western condition.  We grow up thinking that our living conditions are unlikely to differ drastically from childhood into adulthood, and we count on that security.  We are content.  I’ve been thinking about this throughout my move in statements like “I’ll just buy it there,” and “I can always get another one.”  There are some things for which these statements hold truth, but there are others where that is not the case.

An aerial photo of the house where Tsarnaev was found.  The boat has since been removed.
An aerial photo of the house where Tsarnaev was found. The boat has since been removed.

Watertown was rocked by violence in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Franklin street–my street–ended up the focal point of this mayhem as SWAT teams and police honed in to capture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hidden in a boat.  To hear my landlord tell the story is pretty amazing.  The police hid in the driveway behind his car as SWAT teams and federal forces swarmed in from all directions.  No one was sure of anything that day.  The police had closed off a 20-block perimeter to search for Tsarnaev, but the perimeter started a block over from where he was hiding.  They skipped Franklin street in all of their questioning and door-knocking.  The man who found Tsarnaev was just out having a cigarette when he noticed that the shrink wrap on his boat had been disturbed.  He then notified the authorities.

I take the way that my life functions on a daily basis for granted.  I take for granted the fact that when I see or hear of bad news on the radio or TV that I can just turn it off.  I tried to picture myself living in this house in April when all of this went down, unable to turn it off.  I don’t know that I would have come out OK.  It’s so easy to forget about this sort of thing when it’s not in my face, but when it’s there, I replay it until I can remember every thing down to the ways each time of day smelled.  I think it’s the storyteller in me that wants to hold on to those types of details.  I want to be able to relay them without any traces of trauma, but those tiny details are often triggers that inhibit my ability to process the story.

My housemates talk about the bombing like it was yesterday.  My landlord tells the story so matter-of-factly that I think it helps him in some way.  For all I know, he could just talk about it because it’s a damn good story.  Either way, he’s let me know that I’ve entered a changed community.  What used to be a quiet, neighborly, unassuming area has been infiltrated by a fear that I can’t quite understand.  Even so, it’s still the most unassuming neighborhood I’ve called home.  No one stares at unfamiliar faces.  They say “hello” and go about their business.  I haven’t felt the urge to look over my shoulder here.  I hope that continues.

I am beginning to like it quite a bit.

The view of my street when I look my driveway.
The view of my street when I look my driveway.