Monday, April 22, 2013

Walking in Watertown with Maribeth

After much deliberation, I made my way to Watertown this Sunday. I sort of surveyed people on facebook about staying longer in Boston and ditching my tour...after a lot of thought. I realized that this is very very very raw for the people of Boston. That with this, they may want some time to heal amongst themselves. Outsiders are not the ones you trust in moments of trauma. you turn to loved ones. I walked with loved ones and I did my part to start healing. As I continue the walk, there will be lots more healing. Along with this, Bostonians are TOUGH people and are already out there making their lives happen and many of them told me to get out there and keep walking.
With all of this, I did need to get out to Watertown and make a symbolic gesture towards healing for myself. By getting out on the streets that were locked down and spread some love. I have two friends from my days in Boston that live in Watertown. Maribeth said I could come and walk with her. Maribeth lives 2 blocks from where the shoot out occurred. I met her at her house. First we spoke about what the last few days have been for her. She got home minutes before the shoot out and stayed up all night with neighbors. She said that cops patrolled the streets but didn't search her house until around 5pm that night.
Maribeth and I were co-workers in Cambridge and have not visited one another for 7 years. Maribeth offered to walk me to where the shoot out was and to go down the street he was found. This experience was very surreal. As Maribeth spoke to me about work life and her life now, we went down Laurel St and came up to where the shoot out was. We stepped over a pile of tinted black glass and walked by a big box that had contained Lays potato chips. The stop sign was gone and replaced by a little stop sign on a sandwich board. That was all that was left of the scene. It was surreal and the energy of the intersection was intense.
We then went by a store that Maribeth had heard that the brothers had been on top of. I hadn't heard this from the news but Maribeth said she had heard this. There were not a lot of people out walking off the main street. There were a few other people checking out the site of the shoot out. It felt good to walk down streets and claim them back peacefully. It was nice to meet Maribeth's neighbor on the street and smile and talk. It felt like a small gesture of peace, but one none the less to carry on a regular existence in Watertown.
Overall, the walk was intense. Maribeth and I spoke of emotion things. Along with this I was conflicted about leaving when there is so much pain in Boston. As we walked, we passed a community garden that people were working in, a church service that was being let out of the Armenian church, and a woman planting flowers. As we walked past the woman with the flowers, Maribeth said, "Thank you for planting the beautiful flowers." She said it more poetically. The woman turned and said "Thank you. It is a good form of therapy." This woman was down there in the dirt on the side walk making things beautiful in Watertown. We passed a restaurant, Red Lentil, that was giving away free brunch. Watertown is already on it's way to healing itself. Maribeth and I got lunch and continued to chat while we had lunch.
Maribeth and I 2006
Maribeth and I 2013

There were moments when I felt like I should stay, in the silence of the walk when I could feel the sadness envelop me. I could walk the streets there for days in the name of peace. The thing is, if the Bostonians are getting back to everyday life, and that seems the strongest statement, shouldn't I keep going? Shouldn't I go to New York and be scared shitless to ride the subway to my friends house? Shouldn't I worry every step of this trip about the possibility of another attack? Isn't my strongest move of solidarity to keep going? To push past the added fear this trip now has? I don't know the right answer. Maybe I am running away from something by not staying. Maybe I am a horrible healer and person for leaving. I feel that I am. But I also feel that I just was thrown accidentally into a traumatic moment in history and I have the choice to walk away and heal myself. Which this whole trip is about. One month's journey to observe, to love, to get away from my reality and say, "What do I want? What is life?  Who am I?" I hope my walk with Maribeth was enough. I hope you read this and find me courageous in going it Watertown, holding Maribeth's hand, being present, witnessing the remnants of violence, receiving Maribeth's stress and stories of that night, and decide I did what I could.
I spoke with my friend, Hataya about all of this. She was part of 9/11. She said to me, "Paige, some artists
can make work about things like this. Some can't. This happened to you. I know our work is about art and life. But sometime somethings are just life. You have to take care of yourself." I feel so awful about what happened and that I want to see myself as a healer and an artist. The people of Boston need professional help. They need long term healers to stay for years to come and slowly heal their community. Healers that will reside within the community. Maybe in a week I will rush back. Decide I made the wrong decision. For now, my trip, my art, found an intersection with extreme terror and grief. I kept walking through it. Paying respect to the bombing site and to Watertown. Paying respect to the people that I got out of the house and into the street after the bombing and after lock down. I tried to be respectful. I tried to be present. I pushed through fear to get on a bus and go to Watertown. I pushed through fear to decide that I should keep going on this trip. i have no idea what right and wrong is, when making this type of decision. I left Boston 7 years ago, and part of me knows i should have stayed that time around. This time, I walk away from Boston again with an even heavier heart.
Local Grocery Store Filled with People
My Art Work at Maribeth's

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