Thursday, July 07, 2005

Calling London

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It's funny how the dulcet tones of NPR can inspire fear in a person. Something about the calm voices being raised slightly louder, the less well-planned programming, the ever-so-slight tinge of concern entering into the smooth voices of the radio journalists freaks me out more than the snappy graphics and shrieking harpies on Headline News. It's also funny how the voices bring me back to 2001, when I stood in Starbucks with the boy I babysit, oblivious to what was happening in New York, but hearing a radio behind the counter turned on low; getting back to his house and his mother telling me what happened, realizing that the Starbucks was playing the news and I had no idea what was happening.
I woke up this morning as I always do-- two minutes before the alarm clock goes off, sitting up with my hair falling out of its ponytail, blinking and cursing the fact that I'm up at 7:30. I showered, and turned on NPR like I do every morning, expecting Rene Montaigne and Steve Insky. As I opened my laptop to check the weather, I heard the slightly shrill voice of Rene Montaigne announcing attacks in London. I opened, hoping that it was a small scale, single-station thing and that no one was killed. And I immediately felt selfish for complaining about getting up, complaining about the routine of my day. Suddenly it all felt much different, just like it did in 2001. What if I got on the train, just like I do every day, stood in the stairway by the door, took out my book and started reading, thinking about the boring mundane details of my day, and didn't make it to the other end of my trip? Those people in London got up expecting a normal day, maybe a lunch with the boss or a late start due to a doctor's appointment, and didn't make it.
Of course, this is one of those "live every day like it's your last" moments, but we can't always do that. If you wait every day for a bomb to take you out, for a plane to crash, for something to go wrong you'll never accomplish anything. It's not practical to live in this deep paranoid fear every day. We all pay lip service to enjoying each day, for thanking God or whomever we're alive and for our loved ones but in the shuffle of freelance projects that never seem to end, making plans for the weekend and working, we forget. It takes something like this, seeing normal people expecting a normal day in their lives being wounded and killed on the way to work to shake us by our metaphoric shoulders and say "you really should appreciate that you're still here."
I hope that everyone who knows somebody in London knows that they're safe. I just emailed an acquaintance I met the last time I was there to check on him. Hopefully he's all right, and ready to reply with a "I will be fine when you come to visit me in London, you sexy bird."

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