From the second floor of a friend’s office building at 667 Boylston Street, I watched crowds of marathoners finish their 26.5 miles with hands in the air and smiles plastered on their faces. With a beer in hand and surrounded by friends, I was celebrating my recent move to Boston the right way.
But in a moment, everything turned. Two explosions replaced cheering and giddy conversation with piercing screams. My whole body shook, as I heard thunder-like bangs; I felt the heat on my face as debris charged through the open windows. The intensity of the blast forced fellow spectators off the window ledge back into the building. I looked outside to find that the finish line was completely obscured by dust and debris. A cloud of smoke veiled the bloodshed below. The screams continued as we rushed to the back of the building to exit via the fire escape.
Back on ground level, the scene was utter panic: Loved ones trying to find loved ones, bleeding spectators desperate for paramedics. I did not know how to react. Is this really happening in Boston? I hugged my friends tightly before we started on a brisk pace home. We were surrounded by sirens, screams, crying, and yelling. Dazed marathon runners, who should be celebrating, were instead somberly walking away from site.
The irony is that just a couple years ago, concerned friends and family questioned my decision to study in Israel for six months. They were worried about my safety and wondered why I would want to live in such a “dangerous” place. But had I slept in for 20 more minutes, I would have been on the street level at the time of the explosion.
Boston had an eerie calmness as we approached our neighborhood. We walked silently down Charles Street, texting our family members to notify them of our status. I’m still shaken, but now I’m safely in my apartment, continuing to receive texts and phone calls urging me to stay inside.
Paul Weinstein is a manager at the Hillstone Restaurant Group.