Good Timing. Sometimes.

Timing can be good, or bad. Usually, at least for me, it is bad. Last night, though, there was that exception to the rule, when timing was perfect. A welcome exception to the rule, I must say.

The plan was to see two movies at the Independent Film Festival Boston at the Somerville Theatre, “The Way, Way Back” at 7:45pm and then at 9:45pm the documentary “The Punk Singer” about Kathleen Hanna. There was also a free ticket available for me to see Josh Rouse live at the Sinclair. The Man, had won two tickets and he was going to be at the Sinclair before me. He was going to ask if he could leave the second ticket at the box office for me to pick up, and text me the details. Rouse was going up at 10pm, so there was the chance I could catch his full set.

“The Way, Way Back” started 15 minutes late, at around 8pm, which meant it would go until 9:45pm. That was cutting it close. At 9:30pm there was still no text from the Man. The movie was almost ending, but not quite yet. At 9:38 I got the text, that he had my ticket and I would text him when I got there, so he could meet me at the door to hand me my ticket. A couple of minutes later the movie ended, and as the credits started rolling, I rushed out (which by the way, is something I hate doing, I always want to see the credits. Also, the movie is hilarious, I recommend it).

There was a gazillion people in the lobby, but I had to be quick. It was 9:45pm, the exact time “The Punk Singer” was supposed to start. It looked like there were seating people, and I had heard that it was sold out. I went to the rush line outside, where five or so people were standing. I asked if anyone wanted a ticket to the Punk Singer, the first two people were together, so they wanted two, the third one, a woman, needed one. I sold her my ticket, and the seconds it took her to find the $10 bill in her wallet, felt like 10 minutes. I was sorry I was going to miss the documentary, but I hope it will be shown again at some point in my area, so I can eventually catch it.

With the ticket sold, I ran to the T station right next door, tried to get through the gate, but I didn’t have enough money on my Charlie Card. It sounded like a train was coming, I added value, went through the gate, and as I was running down the stairs the inbound train was opening its doors.

I got on the train and sat down to take a breath. OK, good timing, I thought to myself. Harvard Square is only two stops away from Davis, so it was a quick train ride, and at that moment I thought how great it was that all the cool things I wanted to do were so close to each other and so close to where I live. North Cambridge, I love you!

I got off at Harvard, went up to the Church Street exit, walked down Church Street. At that point I realized I had never been to the Sinclair before, so I didn’t know exactly where on Church Street the entrance was. For some reason I thought it was next to the Fire+Ice. I went in through that door next to the Fire+Ice, and it looked like an office lobby with elevators at the left side. OK, not the entrance to the club, I thought. Through the doors straight ahead and to the right, I could hear music, but the doors weren’t labeled or anything, they looked more like exit doors. Nevertheless, without thinking much, I went to one of the doors ahead of me, I pulled, it opened, and just like that I found myself inside the Sinclair, with a couple of surprised people looking at me. OK, that surprisingly worked, I thought. The stage was ahead, and no one was playing, so that was good, I hadn’t missed any of Rouse’s set. I went to the right, where the bar is, and then I saw the entrance next to the bar. Good to know where the actual entrance is, for future reference.

Josh Rouse was still not on stage, I texted the Man to see where he was, but the text wasn’t going though. I started looking around, I saw him standing by the bar, and I went in front of him and went “BOO!” He was like, “What, how did you get inside, I have your ticket?!”, and I told him the whole story. It was like I went to that show for free twice, not only did I have a free ticket, but I had also made it in with no ticket at all. Which could very well mean that I used up my free-entry-to-shows quota on the same show, but what can you do.

We got beers, settled closer to the stage, and in a minute Josh Rouse and his band came on stage and started playing. It was a great set. We took the T to head back to Davis, and as we made it to the platform the train was pulling in to the station. We got on the train, sat down, and there was a quarter on the seat right next to mine, like a tiny goodbye gift concluding a good day. Perfect timing, or what?

One week later

It is now eight days after the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013. It was a beautiful day, and here in Massachusetts we were celebrating Patriot’s Day and a peaceful event, the Boston Marathon. The beauty of the day was interrupted at 2:50pm, when two bombs exploded while runners were still crossing the finish line. Bystanders were killed and injured.

I was getting ready to go play tennis, and after reading some alarming tweets the TV was turned on. The TV news was talking about possible bomb explosions. They showed an empty Boylston Street close to the Marathon finish line. A news helicopter was flying overhead and you can see the red sidewalks, colored red by innocent people’s blood. There were reports of dead people and injured people missing limbs. It was awful, this is Boston, a peaceful, open-minded city, we’re not in a war, why is this happening here?

It was all horrible. It could have been me, it could have been my friends. Like many times before, I could have decided to go down and watch the Marathon up close. The first reported victim dead was an 8-year old, and that turned my sadness to anger. What kind of a world is this when you take your 8-year old to watch the Marathon, and what you are left with is his dead body?

More questions were coming up: who did this? Why would anyone do that? This is terrorism, the enemy is unknown and is targeting innocent civilians. We started speculating, it must have been Muslim radicals, or perhaps white supremacists. But, to me the big question was, whatever your agenda is, how attacking innocent civilians can achieve anything? Who will side with your cause, who will sympathize?

The following days when authorities were trying to identify the suspects, I got angry with the people of 4chan, reddit and twitter who took it upon themselves to identify the suspects, drawing simplistic conclusions, manipulating photos of the bombing scene adding circles around the faces of people they had determined were the culprits. It was disgusting to see them taking it upon themselves, even naming people, who later turned to be innocent. The comments on those sites were pathetic “see this person is running away from the scene, it must be him!”, when everyone around them was running away too, because, you know, an explosion just took place a couple of feet away. The authorities had asked people for tips, clues, information. If you had photos or videos, the authorities had requested that you sent them over, they hadn’t asked of the public to solve the crime. There is a reason why there are authorities, procedures and experts in place, this is not some lawless land, where the masses and mobs can determine the guilty. All those alumni of crime TV shows and movies, took it upon themselves to point the guilty out, and they understandably failed.

On Thursday it was determined by FBI and local enforcement authorities that the bombers were two young men of Chechen descent. I thought that was strange, since as far as I know, the US is not involved in Chechnya. We started learning more about them, they lived in Cambridge, they liked sports. It was revealed the older one, 26 years old, named Tamerlan (after the great Asian warrior, I assume) had become a radical Muslim, saying he doesn’t have a single american friend because he doesn’t understand them, and the younger one, 19 years old, had tweeted “a decade in America already , I want out.”

The young brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became an American citizen the same day I did, on September 11, 2012. I recall that day and how everyone was happy, because the country we liked and decided to make home, had accepted us as its citizens. I wonder how Dzhokhar felt that day. Perhaps he wanted out already.

The thing about immigrating in this country is that no one is forcing you to stay here. Myself and plenty of others have immigrated here, because we wanted to. If you do not like it here, you can leave. I cannot fathom why someone’s radicalism and frustration must turn into violence against their fellow citizens. The Tsarnaevs would have made a stronger and more fitting statement if they had gone back to Chechnya and fought their battles there. But, I suppose it must have been difficult living in poor, oppressed Chechnya. Here in America everything is free-er, easier.

I missed the incidents of Thursday night. Friday morning at 6:30, my phone rang. It is always something bad when you get a phone call so early in the morning. It was an automated message from the City of Cambridge, advising residents to “shelter in place” due to the on-going police activity in Watertown. I turned on the TV to see exactly what was going on, the fifth consecutive day of “breaking news”: the older brother dead, an MIT police officer dead, shoot outs in Cambridge and Watertown, carjacking, the young brother on the run. I was watching what had happened the night before in Watertown, seemed unbelievable that the young brother could have escaped the shootout and so many police officers. Why wasn’t he captured already?

The MBTA was shut down, no subway or buses were running. I didn’t go to work. Massachusetts Avenue was eerily quiet, nothing looked like a Friday morning. I had the TV on, local news kept recycling their stories, as there was no new development. In the afternoon I was wondering when they were going to capture him, how munch longer can we live in a lock down? The lock down was extended to the City of Boston, which I found a little bit too much. Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of our law enforcement with situations like these, so we tended to overreact. I was thinking that he has to be found soon, most likely he is injured and weak, and he is not a career criminal to use sophisticated methods to elude the police. How far could he go? As the day went on, the lock down felt oppressive, like living in a city at war. At 6pm the lock down was lifted, while the suspect was still at large. A couple of hours later he was found hiding in a boat parked on a Watertown resident’s back yard, and breaking news once again: “Suspect captured”.

There was relief. We could go out again. And this little bastard could do no more harm. I wondered why so many police officers on the scene did not methodically search backyard sheds, garages, boats around the initial escape location. Why was it that a resident saw blood in his backyard and his boat and called the police? The suspect was arrested and put in an ambulance, his face looking bloody. The crowd’s relief turned into celebration, which struck me as a bit premature, flags, cheers, U-S-A U-S-A chants, parents holding their children on their shoulders to cheer.

I think of the many people who were injured from the blasts, who have a long recovery road ahead of them. For those there is little relief. Their lives altered forever, like the lives of those who have lost loved ones. I appreciate how everyone rushed to help any way they could, civilians, first responders, Marathon volunteers.  Solidarity, humanity. I did my little part too, I donated to The One Fund, which was set up to help the victims of the bombings. I also appreciate the efforts from all law enforcement, who analyzed clues, tips, data, photos, video. Who did their best to apprehend the suspects and had one of their own seriously injured, who protected the public and had one of their own killed.

Cambridge Police regularly posts this on twitter: “be informed, not afraid.” I like this message. The violence the city saw does not make me afraid, but makes me more aware. I have chosen to live in this city and the area, because it is safe, peaceful, because there is no violence. I am not going to allow an incident like this to make me feel unsafe. But I also do not want to see any violence again ever, not here, not anywhere.