Last night A (not her real initial) and I met at Mount Auburn Cemetery to take a quick walk before heading to the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown for pancakes and conversation: something we’ve done more than a few times in the past. Last night’s cemetery stroll and diner date was more than just another chance to chat over comfort food: it was an intentional act of purification. Ever since Watertown, Massachusetts made the national news a week ago for being the site of the Boston bombing manhunt, I’ve been wanting to reclaim a sleepy little city that’s just one town over from mine: a normally quiet suburb that most folks outside of Boston probably never heard of until the Tsarnaev brothers made it infamous.
Yesterday marked one week since the day-long lockdown that turned the greater Boston area into a ghost town. Lockdown Friday started with emails and recorded phone messages from the mayor telling us to stay indoors, and it ended with us watching televised coverage of people cheering in the streets after the remaining bombing suspect had been captured. In between, J and I did indeed stay inside, remaining glued to CNN and local televised news reports as we waited for some sense of closure to end a truly terrible week.
Lockdown Friday was a gorgeous spring day, which made staying inside that much more difficult; what made the day surreal was watching television coverage of places that are both nearby and familiar. Although I typically describe Mount Auburn Cemetery as being in Cambridge since that’s where the main entrance is, most of the cemetery actually lies in Watertown. To get to Mount Auburn from Cambridge, you take a Watertown bus from Harvard Square; to get to Mount Auburn from Newton, you drive down Watertown Avenue. During last week’s manhunt, local and federal law enforcement used the parking lot at the Watertown Mall as a staging area, and as I watched each televised press conference, I remembered the various times I’d parked there to buy socks, underwear, or other “essentials” at the Watertown Target.
J probably can tell you exactly how many times I said “Look, that’s the diner!” as CNN showed one of their reporters standing on Mount Auburn Street, reporting on every gunshot or dog bark she heard. (Jon Stewart on The Daily Show rightly skewered this same reporter for remarking that the streets of Watertown were eerily quiet, as if someone had dropped a bomb somewhere.) J didn’t need to be told again and again and again that the shiny silver building visible in the background was “the” diner where A and I go for pancakes after our cemetery strolls: he could clearly see that for himself. But I kept pointing it out because I couldn’t quite believe a quiet little neighborhood just one town over from ours was suddenly the site of Breaking News.
Last night A and I went walking at Mount Auburn Cemetery followed by dinner at the Deluxe Town Diner as a way of reclaiming Watertown: now that Suspect One is dead and Suspect Two has been captured, it’s time for Watertown to go back to being a sleepy little suburb about six miles outside of Boston. For the most part, Watertown seems to be returning to normal: last night, Mount Auburn was as lovely as always, and the diner was bustling with Friday night customers. The only indications that Watertown hasn’t completely returned to normal were the “Boston Strong” and “Boston We are One” slogans on MBTA bus marquees and a curious rush-hour traffic jam I experienced near the intersection of Watertown and Galen Streets. From my vantage point near the end of a long queue of cars, I could see flashing lights as several police vehicles escorted something large and white out of Watertown. Only later did I figure out I’d probably witnessed police moving the infamous boat that Suspect Number Two was captured in.
Apart from traffic delays caused by evidence removal, it felt good to return to the familiar calm of Mount Auburn Cemetery, and it felt even better to enjoy comfort food at a diner that was bustling with Friday night customers. Like other businesses in the greater Boston area, the Deluxe Town Diner lost a day’s worth of business on Lockdown Friday, so A and I made a point to leave our waitress an extra-generous tip: a small token of appreciation for a sleepy little suburb that I’m guessing is eager to return to relative obscurity.
Click here for more photos from last night’s purification trip to Mount Auburn Cemetery and the Deluxe Town Diner. Enjoy!