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The View from a Distance: A Reaction to the Chelsea Bombings

In New York City, you never know what to expect. With the constant the rush of people, it’s easy to forget what’s happening around you. We move on with our days – we’re New Yorkers—so is there anything that can shake us?

The night the explosion happened, I was at home visiting for the weekend. Three weeks in, I thought going home would cure my first-year homesickness. While in my room, I talked all of my high school friends into doing a group video chat. After about 15 minutes of catching up, my friend looks up at her TV screen and shouts “Guys, there was an explosion on 23rd Street!” All of us had an immediate reaction to the news, our old high school was on 22nd Street. My mother works only three blocks away from the explosion. Whoever had done this hit too close to home for me. I wanted to know that everyone would be safe when I got back to Dickinson.

The next day, I felt uneasy as I boarded my train. What if something happened when my mom went back to work? What about my friends who were still in high school? I worried that my loved ones were close to danger. I didn’t feel right going back to school and leaving them behind. If something happened to them while I was away, what was I supposed to do?

Sitting in the caf in the following days, I could only focus on the TV screens and the articles I could find to see if 23rd St. was safe again. No one else on my floor seemed to understand what had happened. It can be dangerous where I live, New York City is a giant target. It’s not some tourist attraction or far away place to me, it is my home. How could I just watch bad things unfold there?

I could not even find comfort in knowing that the police had the bomber in custody. I had this thought in the back of my mind that this bomb was only a warning. Thankfully no one died and no one was seriously injured. I was supposed to find comfort in that fact, but I couldn’t. I was overthinking the situation. They caught him, so there was an end to the story. Hypothetically I could relax and get on with my life like normal.

The explosion in Chelsea showed me that I can’t do everything for everyone or control everything that happens in the world. I’m not Supergirl and I have other priorities, like getting my college degree. While I do miss home and wish that I could be there for everyone, I know that they can take care of themselves. We’re New Yorkers, we can do anything – even from a distance.

Julia Mercado

Dickinson '20

Julia is an English major who just loves to write. You can normally find her looking for the next Netflix original to watch... or coming up with her own script ideas. With Her Campus, she hopes to reach out to other college women like her!
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