Much of the last two years had has a surreal quality, but today ranks up there near the top. Neighboring towns are essentially closed -- "cities under siege" (Boston Globe words, not mine) -- while 2,000 police officers and other agents search for one of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects. The other one, as everyone knows by now, is already dead.
Photos of Boston show a ghost town, and photos from Watertown look like a war zone. Here, close to but outside of the towns on lockdown, we're staying inside with our doors locked anyway. This is not entirely rational, but there is news to watch compulsively and blogs and news websites to constantly refresh. It feels as though nothing has happened for hours and hours, but something will eventually happen.
At our house, the kids are on school vacation. I was planning to leave the kids with a babysitter and go in to the office, but the office -- located in a city on lockdown -- is closed. I'm trying to work from home with pretty limited success. It's hard to focus. This is only partly related to the ongoing events of the day: the kids' activities -- a birthday party and a church party -- have been cancelled. So the kids are entertaining themselves with friends indoors. It's not helping my concentration.
We spent two days of our school vacation week in New York City, and announced our identity as Boston-area residents with my eight-year-old's Patriots jersey. Several people offered their condolences to us after making the connection between us and the Boston Marathon bombing.
Let me get this straight: New Yorkers offered condolences to us. Talk about surreal.
"Boston has been in the news," one of them said. "I'm sorry."
Or, "It's terrible what happened."
Yes, it is. We were not directly affected by the events of Monday, but we offer our condolences to those who were. We, with many, many others, will spend the next days and weeks, maybe even months and years, trying to understand why this happened. I suspect there won't be a satisfactory explanation. How can there be?