Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Back in the UK

After my two-week blogging absence I am now settled back in the UK. My jetlag is surprisingly fine this time round...I made it through a productive day today at work, and it's almost 9 PM and I'm still awake! Whoo hoo!

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip home. Had great visits with friends and family, packed up my desk at BI, shipped some stuff across the pond so my house will feel homey (or homely, as they say here, which sounds ridiculous.) Didn't get sick, and other than a tighter-than-anticipated schedule, my visit was trouble free.

I've decided I definitely prefer flying American Airlines. It's not non-stop like NWA, but it goes into Heathrow and it's a 777 route so I had personal video choice, not to mention more legroom. What's a little layover in Chicago when you have 8 hours of comfort? Plus, it's like two hours less time in a car once you land, which is also a good thing. OH! And I saw Doogie Howser at Heathrow. He's shorter than you'd expect.

Many of you were wondering how I'm feeling about the terrorism thing. I won't lie and say it's not freaky. I have been through two of the stations affected in the last month, and it is definitely a bit intimidating to think about riding the tube again. But it's a fact of life...we are threatened by terrorism wherever we go, and if you're going to get hit then you're going to get hit.

The imagery on the news has certainly unearthed some feelings from 9/11 for me, but frankly, many things still do. Watching Independence Day with my nephews made me freak out a bit. I still can't look at images of the WTC without cringing. I can feel my blood pressure rise when I hear people use 9/11 to justify the war in Iraq because I think it's increased the threat of terrorism rather than reducing it as promised. I want to feel safe again.

I think about 9/11 pretty frequently, actually.

But I think the most difficult aspect of the attacks in London for me are not the feelings unearthed by this senseless terrorism, but by the conversations with my family since the bombings. Most of you know that I was in NY and scheduled to be in a meeting in the WTC that morning, but you might not know that there were about three hours that morning when my parents thought I was at ground zero instead of safely uptown by Rockefeller Center. The phones were down so I couldn't call them to tell them I was okay. They were worried sick, seeing images of the towers falling and hearing stories of several blocks of destruction. If I ever needed proof of how much they love me, I could hear it in their voices when I finally reached them.

Now I hear their worry when we speak on the phone. It makes 4000 miles seem a lot further away than it really is, and I don't worry nearly so much about being caught in an attack as I do about trying to protect people who love me from fearing for my safety if this happens again.

I don't live in London, I live in Milton Keynes. I don't expect additional terrorist attacks in the coming weeks, and even if I did they're not coming after our indoor ski slope or the many American chain restaurants. They're making progress in finding the perpetrators. But today they were searching a car at Luton airport, which is only 20 minutes away. I live in the UK, the other major player in Iraq. It's no safer here than it is at home. And while I hope for the best, I know that the reality of our world is not quite as pretty.

But I'm not going to stop living my life because it's a little scary out there. I'm off to London on Friday night. I'm going to try to catch the Frida Kahlo show at the Tate on Saturday. I'm going to hope for the best and assume I'll be fine, and I'm going to take the tube because that's how you keep on living your life. That's how we win.

1 comment:

lulu said...

I'm glad you're back and safe and sound. My first thought when I heard about the terrorism wasof you and if you were OK, because, yes, I know you don't live in London, but I think it is natural to worry about your own before you worry about strangers. (For an English teacher, I write very long and poorly constructed sentences)

Had I known you had a lay-over in Chicago, I would have sent Jane and Steve to O'Hare to keep you company. I would have come myself, but Amherst to Chicago is a long trip for a 2 hour stop.