Finish Lines

I wasn’t always a person who crossed finish lines, but I became one four years ago, and it changed me.

I crossed a finish line on Sunday, elated, hugging friends and looking around for strangers who had become instant buddies over the length of the race course. I was writing about that finish line yesterday, and then I heard about Boston.

Boston shouldn’t feel any closer to me or mean any more to me than so many other horrible events. It’s not my tragedy. But maybe because I’ve become a person who crosses finish lines, Boston feels both more relatable and even more unimaginable.

I’m not saying that people who cross finish lines are different from anyone else. I’m saying that I’m different from the person I was before I crossed finish lines. A finish line to me is a marker of growth and perseverance and power, and it’s a celebration with friends and loved ones who supported me while I became the person who could get across that line. I’ve been cheered on at a finish line, and I’ve been there to cheer on others, and it’s always felt like this wild little community — hugs and cowbells and orange slices and tears, volunteers and medics and racers and supporters and dreamers. I picture that, and I try to reconcile it with what I’m reading and seeing, and I can’t. My brain won’t bend that way; it doesn’t make sense.

But what this has made clear is that the weird little finish line community? It continues long beyond those finish lines. It’s the people running today in race shirts, and reaching out to the runners and athletes they know, and checking in, and vowing to be there again. There’s a lot of love out there, and I’m trying to reach for that today.

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