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  • My phone buzzes next to my keyboard. It reads, "Dan was that explosion near you?" It's from my dad.

    Explosion? I didn't hear or feel anything. Must have been a generator or something in a different part of the city. Things like that typically get picked up by local news outlets. I get up from my desk to take a look at the TV. Sure enough they did.

    It wasn't a generator.

    The kitchen area is already filled with fellow employees looking on in horror at the events unfolding on the television. Their eyes dart back and forth from the screen to their phones as they frantically reach out to loved ones. The screen reads:

    "2 EXPLOSIONS AT FINISH LINE OF BOSTON MARATHON" reads the ticker.

    I immediately text my dad. "No, I'm fine. Not even close to me. Just found out about it."

    He writes back, "Thank God! Just saw multiple ambulances and Staties heading east on route 9." Considering that my dad does not work in the city of Boston but several towns over, I knew this was serious for him to be seeing responders. I sent a message to Christina, "Let me know u r ok." She calls a few minutes later. She is safe. My mom was working from home today, but I wasn't sure if she had heard. I wrote to her, "I am fine."

    "Why did you say you are fine?"

    She hadn't heard.

    I called and told her over the phone. She was in shock. I assured her that I was not in danger. I went back to the kitchen to see if there were any other developments. The room was bustling with activity. People were running in, checking monitors, and racing away on their cell phones. Cell service was spotty, heightening the anxiety in the office. On TV smoke and debris cover Boylston Street as panicked runners and event officials tried to keep order and get everyone out safely.

    My brother texted me to see if I was okay. He was also working outside the city and was safe. My uncle was driving runners to the start line in the morning, but was already home when the bombs went off. Everyone was present and accounted for at the moment.

    Christina called me distraught because she couldn't get a hold of her friend at the race. I'm surprised she got through to me with all of the traffic on the network. I reassured her that everything would be fine. A few minutes later she got through. Her friend was not at the finish line but rather a few miles down the race route.

    This checking in and keeping tabs on friends and family went on for a few hours. Work was farthest from my mind but it was the only thing that could keep me in check. I went back and forth from my desk to the kitchen, picking up more information with each trip. Eventually numbers started to make their way to the newsroom and the first reports of casualties came to light. They started low, in the 20s, but quickly increased to the 70s, including the first reports of fatalities. With all of the injured being shuttled around to various hospitals in the city, it must have been incredibly difficult to determine.

    We slowly realized that things were calming down and the next step would be to find a way home. Public transit was delayed or shut down for certain routes near the incident and traffic was building up as we neared rush hour. I finished my work around 5 o'clock, about two hours after the bombs went off. I was scheduled to fly out to New York City the next morning for a video shoot. I had to bring some camera equipment home. Most of it fit in my bag with the exception of the monopod. That had it's own carrying case.

    So there I stood, staring at the clock. I could come back in the morning to get my gear, but I was already leaving so early I didn't want to get up earlier than I had to. I had my overstuffed computer bag with wires, lenses, camera body, and laptop, virtually busting out of the seams.The kicker was the monopod in its long, black and red case. The very same case that prompted a woman at the airport to ask how many firearms I was carrying. Great. To top it off I was wearing an all black coat and sunglasses. I took the glasses off. No need to complete the assassin-like ensemble. I entered the elevator and rode eight floors down to the ground where the streets of Boston waited for me.

    I hit the street around 5:10. Everything seemed pretty normal, or at least that's what I wanted it to feel like. The sky was blue and the sun was creating a nice golden amber on the surrounding buildings. I walked a few blocks down and got a message from my mom saying to avoid trash cans as they could have explosives. Walking in a city makes it difficult to avoid these, but I tried. I hadn't received any looks yet, but I was sure I was going to. I walked down Milk Street when I got to Post Office Square. A runner still wearing her bib and foil-looking blanket was at the corner. I wanted to help, but she scooted on ahead, her eye on the prize as it must have been all day during the race. I crossed the park and then craned my head to the sky. Helicopters circled. Hopefully they didn't spot me.

    I crossed over to Franklin and then onto Federal. I was on the home stretch when I got to Dewey Square. There, in front of South Station where my train lay waiting on the track, were several cruisers, some of them K-9 units, and armed officers in bright neon overcoats. I tried to look inconspicuous, but it's hard when you are 6'3" wearing an all black military style coat and carrying what looks like a rifle case.

    Somehow I got through "undetected," and made my way inside to the train information board. There were a lot of people and a lot of officers in the station. It wasn't chaotic, but heavy. A lot of runners were waiting to board trains out of the city. They were still wearing their shorts and carrying their bulky, yellow marathon bags. I stood in the middle of the station soaking in the energy, and at the same time trying not to get tagged for carrying large, suspicious bags on my shoulder.

    I expected to receive more looks from my fellow travelers at the station, but I think it's a product of the day we live in. We are so well connected to one another through various devices that we sometimes fail to notice things around us. Luckily the police force doesn't heed the same lust for connectivity while on duty, but still I "slipped through their fingers," hopefully because I did not look as threatening as I felt I did.

    I boarded my train bound for Endicott station, miles away from all the commotion, sirens, helicopters, and negative energy. I was greeted by my dad at the train station. He was very glad to see that I was safe and sound. He dropped me off at my apartment where I found Christina resting. She had developed a whopper of a headache from her long day in town. We turned on the TV and watched for a few minutes. The death toll reach three and the injuries surpassed the century mark. Light was fading outside and inside my heart as well. Though I wasn't at the race I felt incredibly impacted by it. I've seen too many tragedies unfold in my lifetime on television, but to have it happen just blocks away was unnerving.

    My biggest regret was that I wasn't there to help. I wasn't there to wheel the injured to safety, to comfort those too weak or too scared, to let someone know that everything would be okay. I wasn't looking for the spotlight on TV. I wanted to make a difference. I was tired of sitting on the sideline squirming with each gruesome detail and account of the horrible event. I looked at my side and saw that Christina was feeling better. She was glad I came home. Maybe I did make a small difference after all.

    I stayed up late and tried to avoid watching news coverage. I was starting to feel sick from it. I watched George Miller's The Road Warrior to try and take my mind off it. It worked for 95 minutes, but then reality sank back in. I went online and checked Facebook. The hundreds of status updates, photographs, and kind words from friends and family all over were so nice to read.

    I'm thankful to be alive, thankful that my friends and family are unscathed, and I'm proud of this city. To those who fell and never got up, we pray for you. To those who are still injured and seeking recovery and redemption, we pray for you. To the global community whose outreach and support has been overwhelming, we thank you.

    On a day where Massachusetts celebrates the brave effort of the colonial soldiers who stood up to the British at the Battle of Lexington and Concord those many years ago, so too shall this great city stand up to all those who oppose us.

    (Dedicated to the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing of April 15th, 2013)
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