Well, this morning I signed up for the Boston Marathon 2014. No, I’m not entirely sure I love the race and there are lots of pros and cons, etc. But, it’s hard to feel like I did what I went to do last year and certainly it’s hard to feel like there isn’t unfinished business, like I don’t need to go back. Lots of unresolved issues.
I don’t necessarily even believe in the idea of closure. I’m actually pretty convinced it’s something “the media” made up at one of our media secret meetings where we all decide we’ve got it in for Sarah Palin. Still, every time I had some version of this conversation it just kept adding up, piling up, and pushing me back:
Someone: *super sad voice* Ohhhh, you were at Boston? Wow. How was that?
Me: *stare at them*
Someone: You must have been already finished when everything happened, right?
Me: Well, not exactly, I didn’t finish.
Someone: Oh wow, were you stopped on course?
Me: Um, no. I sort of dropped out before anything happened, unrelatedly.
Someone: *stare at me*
Because I am a failure. Because I couldn’t even finish the race, when I had every advantage to do so, when I could have just been a little tougher, while other people died or had their legs blown off or saved each other just to give me the chance to run it, to create the event and the opportunity. I failed them. And, I know that’s not exactly true, but it’s a little bit true. Who am I to have not finished.
Even the registration form for the race argued with me about the improbability of my experience. It asked: Is this your first Boston Marathon? No. How many Boston Marathons have you completed? 0. “You have entered an impossible value. Please go back and revise your answer to the question.”
Sigh. I am, evidently, an impossible value.
I could say that I signed up for next year because I don’t want “them” to win, but (today, Sept. 11, of all days) I don’t actually really believe that. I don’t think it’s a zero sum game and as long as we insist it is, then it will be. Then, there will always continue to be an us and a them. And, anyway, I don’t really know who “they” are or how “they” didn’t sort of win when we put a major city on lockdown to hunt down one 19-year-old. So, no, I’m not going back to Boston to prove that I’m not afraid and I’m definitely not going back because of a desire to participate in aggressive shows of patriotic fervor. I’m not going back because I can make things better for the people who are still struggling in the aftermath, my presence can’t do that for them (though donations maybe can help). I’m going back because I have a race to finish. I going back not because of the bombing, but in spite of it.