From Boston to Sacramento

I had Monday off work and did usual morning things: dog walk, coffee, read the paper. A story about the Sacramento Kings drama seemed important; an essay by a Guantánamo Bay detainee stunned. But then, three words overtook all others: Explosions. Boston Marathon. Reading those words didn’t feel real.

At this point, a few minutes after noon, there was nothing about the bombings on TV or online. Except on Twitter, where people shared a cellphone photo: a fireball draped in white smoke on a crowded sidewalk.

Soon, dozens more horrific photos. Then, a half-hour after the bombings, journalist Amalie Benjamin tweeted: “ staffer @stevesilva just came into the media center. He was right by the explosion. He has video. He is shaking.”

Steve Silva stood in the middle of Boylston Street at the finish line videotaping marathoners when the first bomb ripped through the street. He ran toward the blast: dazzled faces, responders frantically tearing down fencing and blood. So much blood. Three minutes after shooting the now-famous footage, Silva tweeted, “God help us.”

By 1 p.m. PST, cable and network TV caught up with Twitter. Wolf Blitzer hopped on air. Reporters interviewed witnesses, who likened the explosions to a war zone, “like being in Iraq.” The onslaught of news and speculation at once fed and numbed the shock.

I had to get away, so I went to grab lunch. On the way, faces of Sacramento runners I know filled my mind. Were any, for some reason, there? Were they OK? Then, inside a cafe, I saw an old co-worker, a marathoner, who I hadn't seen in months. He had been on my mind minutes earlier; it was good to see him.

It felt real, finally.