It’s been a curious sort of week from where I’m sitting in Western Massachusetts. I always tell people in New Zealand that I’m in “the part of Massachusetts that isn’t Boston”, but whether you like it or not (and a lot of people out here don’t like it, especially when it comes to the always-contentious transportation budget) Boston is the center around which Massachusetts revolves.
Apart from the five days I spent there in my first week in the US, I’ve only been back to Boston three times in the last three years, and one of those trips was to be dropped off at the airport, which hardly counts. I was there, though, on Saturday, attending the amazing annual Microbial Sciences Initiative Symposium at Harvard, where the university feeds us and lets us listen to brilliant microbiologists talk about their work. The third Monday in April is a public holiday in Massachusetts, Patriot’s Day, celebrating the beginning of the American Revolution; a lot of my friends and colleagues who came to the symposium stayed, taking advantage of the long weekend to hang out with friends and family in the big city.
So the bombings at the marathon on Monday afternoon brought a lot of checking Facebook and texting, and wondering that something this horrific should have happened in Boston, of all places, which wasn’t really a famous American city in the way that New York or Washington D.C. were, at an event that was so thoroughly innocuous. I don’t visit Boston often, but it’s psychologically close, and so is this horrible event.
But then, improbably, Parliament TV provided one of the best antidotes to senseless violence that you could possible get: purposeful righting of wrongs. I cried when I watched this, like a lot of Kiwis. It’s so rare that politics produces something so unambiguously right.
And this morning, the daffodils in the garden started opening.
People do stupid random acts of violence for stupid reasons, and troll the entire country about whether they like gay people enough to vote to give them rights (yes, that means you, Chester Burrows), and people get up in Parliament and sing, and sometimes there are daffodils. It’s a strange week.