Patriot’s Day

“Stealing from myself, the FB post when I checked in to this movie (no, I don’t check in to every movie I see): There are see it as soon as you reasonably can high priority movies, and run over less than ninety min after you’ve arrived home and pay for a full price ticket even though you’re still unemployed high priority movies. Marky Mark, I’m trusting you on this one…

We know I lived in Boston for a while, and it should be pretty easy to deduce I was there the week of the Marathon bombing, manhunt, lockdown, etc. I took a quick glance at the blog posts that I wrote shortly thereafter, and it looks like I never really talked about it. Although I think that had more to do with being busy with theatre than anything else. But anyways, here’s my story just to give you some context of the emotional impact I felt from this movie.

Marathon Monday, I was actually at work. It was kinda hit or miss in the city whether or not you had the day off. Wasn’t too big of a deal for me, I’d never really cared to watch the race anyways. When it happened, someone saw something on their news feed and told the people at the desks nearby. Pretty soon, we all had various news sources up, trying to figure out what was going on. I’d seen FB pix all day of a few different friends at race, and I had no idea if they were okay (turns out, all of my peeps were, so thank God). It was basically an afternoon of confusion because no one knew if it was over or if more was happening. And no one’s cell phones were working. I had to get down to MIT for rehearsal (we were in prod week for The Wedding Singer), and I did not feel comfortable riding the T that evening. Instead I got one of the worst and craziest cab rides ever (in this pre-Uber-takeover world) that was prolly worse than riding the train would have been. Only a handful of the people expected showed up, as the rest were caught up in something releated to the day’s events.

What had freaked me out most was that even if I never ventured down to Boylston street on Marathon Monday, I still knew that street very well. There was even a point living in Fenway where I’d walk that route every single day.

But Boston is a tough city. We didn’t cower. We got angry. And we waited. Then we got to Thursday night.

It was final dress for The Wedding Singer, Kresge Little Theater on MIT campus. I was the choreographer, so I was sitting in the audience on my laptop, taking notes during my numbers and prolly playing Candy Crush the rest of the time. Even though I didn’t go to MIT anymore, I was (and kinda still am) on a bunch of their email lists. I started getting a bunch of stuff about a shooting on campus, but none of them knew exactly what was happening. Something about 7-11, but there were two nearby. There may have been a cop involved. We really didn’t know anything. The rest of the dir(ectorial) staff started seeing the same emails. The cast on stage performing the closing number, oblivious. We decided that since there wasn’t enough information, we’d let the rehearsal end, give notes, and then tell people what was going on. So that’s what we did. Right as we were wrapping up and encouraging each other to be careful and stay safe, all of the students’ phones started going off with text messages. Just a few weeks earlier there had been a hoax active shooter situation on campus, and pretty much everyone was very unhappy with how it was handled. As a direct result of that, an emergency text message notification system went into place and it was being used far sooner than anyone would have expected. Things were starting to get real.

Pretty much everyone there was in two camps: those who decided to barricade themselves in the theater working on the set and eating the bagels that we’d acquired from the Dunks on campus as it was closing, and those who had to get home. I was in the latter group. My apartment was a straight shot up Mass Ave from the theater, usually 20 min on foot. No way I was walking that tonight. I ran to each person in the place who I knew sometimes drove until I found someone who had brought their car and would drive me home. As we made our way out, if we crossed paths with anyone who lived off campus, we grabbed them and insisted they come with us. We left the building, but still had a couple blocks to get to the car. We walked arm in arm, Wizard of Oz style. As we passed Vassar street, we saw police lights in front of the Stata center. Well that answered the question of which 7-11 (there was one near there) and where exactly things happened. (I’d later found out that the music director who I’d persuaded to stay thru notes would likely have been walking thru there on the way home had he left early.) We got to the car and one by one everyone was dropped off.

Now it was after midnight. I’d texted my Mom and a few other key people to let them know I was home. Inconsistent and conflicting reports of what was happening were flying across various email chains and FB posts. I was in Cambridge, which was one town over from Watertown, where the action was. I’d had a temp job in Watertown for a couple months after I graduated. I heard bits about the carjacking and escape, and realized that the two adjacent gas stations where it occurred were ones I visited pretty regularly. What didn’t let up were the sounds of sirens. I stayed up until about 3 AM until I gave up. I’d hoped it would all be over when I woke up.

It was dead quiet when I woke the next morning. I checked my email and the threads had continued, but there wasn’t much more new info. And that basically continued throughout the rest of the day. An eerie silence as the city was shut down, interrupted by the occassional sirens. At 6:00, we got word that the “”shelter in place”” order (more on that in a bit) was lifted. Soon after that, Tsarnaev was caught in the boat on land in Watertown. And it was over. At first people mistakenly thought that he was following police scanner reports on social media tracking the officers’ movements, and that he fell for them lifting the order. But as we now know, it was when the order was lifted that a Watertown citizen walked outside and saw his boat disturbed.

The feeling when it was all over was one of relief and gratitude. The city had worked together and justice was served. There were celebrations in the street and on FB. I felt proud of my town. Our opening night was postponed a day, but that didn’t matter. I was also annoyed that I’d taken the day as a vacation day (typical strategy for opening night) but then everyone essentially had it off. Yeah, first world problems.

So back to the shelter in place order. There’s one thing I want to be very clear on. There was some controversy afterwards about whether or not that was the right call for the authorities to make. From a legal and ethical standpoint, I don’t know. But from what it felt like on the ground, no one saw it as infringing on our rights or invoking martial law. We also weren’t fearful and hiding. What we were doing was staying the \m/ out of the way, and letting the boys in blue do their jobs. We wanted all of our officers looking for those guys, not responding to fender benders and traffic violations. That is why you don’t mess with Boston. In one way or another, we will all come get you.

And that is probably the longest intro I’ve ever written before even getting into the actual movie I’m talking about. I just felt it was important to include my story because it directly impacted my movie experience, in a completely unprecedented way. Patriot’s Day was one of the hardest movies I’ve ever watched and one of the most emotional for me personally.

So seeing as how I followed everything when it was happening, I knew most of what was going to occur in the movie. There were a lot of gaps filled in, especially around the investigation, but most other details I remembered were represented on screen. Even when I knew something was going to happen, I still felt it. The worst for me was anything that had to do with Sean Collier. Not only was I there-ish, but he represented my school and my community. My heart broke every time he was on screen.

What I appreciated most about the movie was how most of the focus was on the law enforcement officers, as it should be. They were the true heroes of the story, and the ones that deserve the recognition and to have their stories told. It was a beautiful showcase for them and Boston.

I feel like I can’t objectively comment on much else on the film like I normally would (plot, acting, directing, etc). And I really don’t have any idea how someone who isn’t as invested would enjoy it. I’d like to think that it’s an interesting and compelling story. But for me, it’s a look back at my former home. And it was the first time since the move that I truly missed that dirty water.

Patriot’s Day – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

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