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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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I wrote this on July 8, 2005. [20050715|23:04]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
[Tags|, , , ]
[the weather today is |drunk]
[with a hint of |A Pair of Brown Eyes - The Pogues]

Yesterday, three Underground trains and a bus were subjected to terrorist attacks in London. I went on one of the strangest walks I've ever taken in the afternoon to meet Marco, Jade and Sander once Marco was being allowed out of his building. I passed streams of somber-faced people trudging home, blocked-off streets, police everywhere. No buses, no lorries, no rumble of trains. It wasn't silence, exactly, but a kind of uncommon quiet.

It brought to mind September 11, 2001, of course. It suddenly occurred to me that I've never written about it anywhere. I was in Washington, four days after my family and I decided to invoke my maternal grandfather's living will and allow him to die. He'd suffered an aortic aneurysm a week prior and his last words approved a treatment that kept his body from dying but could not restore him to consciousness. I was very close to him. I was already grieving when the planes flew into the twin towers.

My mother woke Marco and me at 7:30 am, coming into my old bedroom with wide eyes and shaking hands. I'll never forget what she said. She told me, "We're at war." I thought she was overreacting. I was wrong.

We were glued to the television for hours, our emotions wrenched and wrung as the death toll veered wildly up and down and the video footage of the planes hitting the towers and the distorted Pentagon replayed incessantly. Finally we turned off the set and started making practical arrangements. Marco, my cousin and I were scheduled to fly out of Washington on September 12th. Obviously that was not going to happen, but we needed to return to San Diego. So we hurried to secure a car. We got the last one.

Although we were thousands of miles from New York, the same strange non-silence that we experienced in London yesterday pervaded throughout our long drive south. Despite the numerous cars on the road, the skies were absolutely empty. We felt the absence of jet noise keenly, like the lack of bus and train rumblings yesterday. The restaurants we stopped at, though filled with people, had a subdued atmosphere.

I sat in the back of the car while Marco and my cousin traded off driving. I read most of _The Sagas of the Icelanders_ and ate potato chips incessantly. I had to have them or I became very irritable. It was extraordinarily irrational behavior. My cousin drank two double Jack Daniels and cokes at every meal stop. We didn't talk about anything of consequence. We didn't talk about much, period. Even when we dropped my cousin off in Arizona with his girlfriend and he seemed to take comfort in her presence, we didn't mention my grandfather or the plane crashes. The time, only days ago, when this person, the man who never asks for anything, turned to me with tears streaming down his face and said, "I need a hug," felt incredibly remote. The combination of personal grief and the shock of terrorist attacks rendered us incapable of articulating anything. We were simply existing, surviving, trying to get home as fast as possible. Nothing seemed as appealing as sleeping in our own beds, being with our friends and returning to our jobs. Trying to recapture a sense of normalcy.

None of us were so blind to the events of the world to have ever believed in the sanctity of our country's shores or the unassailability of our personal safety. Nevertheless, our own homes offered a sense of security, no matter how shaky its foundations. Where else do you run to when threatened, however ephemeral or improbable the likelihood of attack?

pixiehead's thoughts on 9/11 and 7/7.

mysti77 was on the Underground during the attacks.

[User Picture]From: supiluliumas
2005-07-15 22:21 (UTC)
I had to work the day of September 11th. My friends were all like, you're risking your life if you go in today. I told them, I work with aircraft and heavy machinery, I risk my life every day!

That afternoon you either sat near a plane, just sitting there making sure no one 'unauthorized' went near it, or you could go inside where all the old guys were sitting at the breakroom tables arguing about what was going on. Me and a few of my co-workers went to another breakroom where we watched a few movies and ate some chicken someone brought in; there was a little uncomfortable squirming during X-Men.

It was the clearest sky I'd ever seen above the airport.

I was off for three days after that. At one point I went to a friend's house and we watched "Paths of Glory". It was a pretty somber period.
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[User Picture]From: sekl
2005-07-15 22:53 (UTC)
My son was three days old on Sept. 11. We took him back to the hospital because of an error on his birth certificate. The woman at the records counter was wild-eyed and her hair was going different directions.

"This will be a historic day to make a change," she said.

I raised an eyebrow.

"Haven't you heard, a plane crashed into the Tower, we're at war," she said, the whites of her eyes showing a bit too much as she spoke.

She was listening to this very odd radio station, so I nodded, picked up Jake and headed out. I thought she was off of her rocker, until I passed a large screen TV in the lobby. It showed the second tower being struck.

I stopped and watched, unable to move. CNN replayed it two or three times. Then Jakob gave a sigh. I looked down at him and wondered what kind of world he would know, being born into all of this.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-07-18 20:49 (UTC)
It's strange to think that by the time he goes to school, it will have become a part of the curriculum, another piece of history, probably rather abstract to him even though he was alive at the time. And his birthday will always be intertwined with it.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-07-18 20:46 (UTC)
Oh yes, I didn't mean to imply that the comparison between 9/11 and 7/7 would be inevitable for everybody. I was only speaking for myself. It's peculiar, being an American who was in the States on 9/11 and an expat gradually becoming more comfortable in the UK who happened to be living in London on 7/7. I think I was more shocked by 7/7, strangely, because of my proximity to the events and the lack of other, more deeply personal tragedies occurring at the same time, but also less surprised. If that makes sense.
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[User Picture]From: wurlitzerprized
2005-07-17 01:21 (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-07-18 20:46 (UTC)
♥ to you too. I keep going back to re-read your post. It's brilliant.
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