How the Marathon bombing changed me

It’s Friday. And it’s Day 3 since something turned my life around.

IMG_5837It’s been five days since I heard about the bombs on Boylston street. I was glued to the computer for hours, even though my colleagues (admittedly 2000 miles away from the horror) were studiously working already. I couldn’t stop obsessing over it. It felt like 9/11 again. And like 9/11, Copley Square was huge in the picture for me.

On 9/11, I walked past Copley, watching the Hancock tower being evacuated. Seeing people mill around, unsure where to go, unable to contact their loved ones. Phones were useless, and everyone was dead quiet. The T was packed, and people were polite.

Now, this week, I imagine chaos at Copley. I see pictures of flames and smoke and even blood, just outside the library, just off Copley Square, just outside the doors to the T station. The BPL and Copley are my two favorite places in the world, outside of New Zealand. Yes, I like them that much. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and slowly all my friends still back in Boston reported in: all ok.

Tuesday was cruddy, too, and the images got more graphic. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but couldn’t bear to look, either. I ate ten Butterfingers at my desk that day, and had an ice cream shake for dinner. Seriously.

By Wednesday, I was toast. A real bear, and sick to my stomach from grief, fear, and all that damned sugar. I was too nauseous for breakfast, and felt for the first time ever like I just needed a salad, then I fought with my boyfriend by the afternoon.

But while we argued, something in me snapped. I realized I had no control over this person, no matter how much I loved him. I realized I had no control over Boston, over any horrible or good people anywhere. I only could control me.

He asked if I wanted to go lap swimming with him that afternoon, something I’d been meaning to do. I said no, that I didn’t feel like it and was feeling too shy to start lap swimming; I hadn’t swum strokes since I took lessons as a six-year-old.

And then no. No, I’m going to go. I’ll never get to it if I wait to feel like it. So we went. And what the hell, we biked there. We swam in the rain, and then we biked back home in the rain and rush hour traffic. For good measure, I got off my bike at home and ran around the block. I’ve never done any of these things before.

I didn’t set any world records. But I set a personal record, no doubt. That night I went to bed and realized I hadn’t had any sugar that day.

Then I had another sugar-free day. Another workout. And today, another sugar-free day, and another workout. Now that I’ve had three days sugar free, I don’t want to go back to starting over.

Did I change the world because of my sugar mindset? No. But Boston and this whole damned week, complete with another explosion closer to home, made me realize that life and health are real things worth protecting. That only I can make myself healthier. And that if I don’t do it now, this moment, when the heck will I?

So I’m done with at least that little bit of self-abuse. That little bit of a fleeting “treat” that is so thinly veiled bad food. There’s so much bad for me out there in the world that I can’t control. But this? This I can control.

Lemons, meet sugar-free lemonade. Boston, keep rocking on.

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