“Well, it's a beautiful day out there, best of the year,” said Brian Baccaro, 29, a former roommate of mine who still has a Brighton address on the Watertown line. “And now I think bombs might be hidden all over the place.”
That statement is no longer irrational for this community. It’s no longer irrational for Boston.
The porch barbecues and outdoor events that make these neighborhoods so boisterous likely will not take place this weekend – the first one to hit 70 degrees after a long, brutal winter. There won't be chicken kabobs or lahmajun eaten, Coors Light 30-racks will stay on the shelves, and you won't see neighbors yelling across their porches at each other.
Instead, the working class people of Brighton, the largely Armenian population of Watertown, the students and citizens of Cambridge and the rest of Eastern Massachusetts will stay hunkered down indoors in a police state.
Welcome to post-bomb Boston.
Watertown and Brighton
Arsenal Street, specifically the section located between two malls in Watertown, is the epicenter of Friday morning’s news. Police have clustered here as they hunt for the remaining suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old wanted for Monday’s Marathon bombings.
Aresnal Street, and the two malls that bookend the enormous police presence, are on the border between Watertown and the Boston suburb of Brighton.
Brighton is home to young adults, college students and Irish and Russian families who have been there for generations. From 2006 to 2012, I lived on Hobson Street in Brighton. It was a short Charles River bike ride away from the scene of this manhunt.
There's no violent crime in these neighborhoods: When I lived here someone unwittingly showed up drunk at my apartment door mistaking my home for his and a misunderstanding ensued. That's the only confrontation I remember.
It was through Watertown's quiet, small, one-way streets in the east end of town that police had a gun battle in the middle of the night.
By 6 a.m., live images of SWAT teams and other law enforcement encamped in front of a building on Quimby Street were broadcast, and riveting us in front of our televisions before we knew we weren't allowed to leave our homes.
Today not just Brighton and Watertown, but the neighboring communities of Belmont, Cambridge and all of Boston are on government-mandated lockdown; Watertown is a law enforcement stronghold. Not the outdoor celebration of spring it was supposed to be.
Locked in Doors, Confident Normalcy Will Return
Sue Gryszkiewicz, 29, lives on Clark Street in Somerville, two blocks from Norfolk Street, within shouting distance of the police activity early Friday.
"It's scary," she said. "But also, refreshing in that they might get the guys responsible for the bombing."
Like other Bostonians and Cantabrigians, she is confident the city will stay strong.
"Boston will go back to normal," she said, even as she could hear sirens and see her neighborhood on live news broadcasts. "He will be caught. You can't live scared. That's what these guys wanted."
"It's always been a safe neighborhood, where people know and take care of each other," says Gaelle Baker, 29, who lives on the Watertown Line. "We will recover with time."
"The suspect could've fled to any neighborhood; it happened to be ours. The Boston Police are doing a great job and we're crossing our fingers that they find him quickly."