to london, with love
9/11 may have had more deaths and casualties and may have been only half the country away, but yesterday's attack on London hit closer to home, because it hit closer to my heart. In September of 2001 I had never been to NYC or DC, and I knew no one in either city, (save for Gracy having grown up in a DC suburb, and she of course, was safe in Columbia). I had seen New Yorkers running from an attack on their city before - I had watched Independence Day. So even though my brain knew that the news cameras were not using special effects to alter the scenes of destruction, I didn't react emotionally to the attacks for months.
But yesterday had me in tears the moment I heard of the bombings on London's transport system. I felt very much under attack even half-way across the globe. London is my city. I can picture Russell Square, hear the computerized voice saying, "This is a District Line train to Edgware Road," remember rushing up the stairs to the top of a red double-decker bus for the best seats in the house and have pictures of me with the trolly beneath the sign in the King's Cross station marking Platform 9 3/4. The city holds a piece of me in its history, and it holds Megan and Jon now. When I got into work and turned on my computer, the image of a Tube map that I had set as my desktop wallpaper back in January flickered into view, bright, colorful and looking as safe as it had the day before. The tube map, so central to London and my experiences there, the map is London itself to me. And despite its smells and crowds, or maybe a bit because of it, the Tube is one of my favorite parts of London.
Glued to NPR, I clung to the report that the Jubilee Line was unharmed, knowing that was the line Megan took to work every day, and burst into tears as soon as her mom said she and Jon were safe. But even knowing they were safe didn't keep my emotions in check for the rest of the day. A woman was interviewed on NPR outside Earl's Court Tube station, a block from where I once lived, and I could imagine her - I could imagine ME - standing there, next to the news agent with an Evening Standard poster proclaiming the day's biggest headline: "Terrorism on London Transport." An attack like yesterday's wasn't unexpected. There were warnings when I was there. But knowing it could happen doesn't dull the shock when it does.
One of my favorite depictions of the Tube map was the '80s "Tate by Tube" poster that shows tubes of paint creating the Tube map (Get it? Paint tubes? The Tube?) and promoting the Tate Museum - I don't remember if it was for the Tate Modern or the Tate Britain, but my hunch is the Tate Modern. I had a horrible vision yesterday of some ignorant 2-year-old mussing up that image by finger painting.
Maybe it sounds a bit callous, but while 9/11 left a hole in the skyline of New York, 7/7 left a hole in my heart.
and now for a little comic* relief
I've been house- and dog-sitting this week. For me, this has meant eating sugary cereals for breakfast (Golden Grahams - yay!), drinking fun drinks for dinner (chocolate milk - woohoo!) and having special drinks for dessert (Bailey's - oooooh!). For the dogs, it meant peeing on the clothes I set out for church. I've never lived with dogs before. Apparently they don't like it when something new is on the floor. Or maybe they had warmed up to me and were marking my clothes as part of their territory, in which case I feel I should sense some kind of flattery, but it's evading me. I quickly made a new rule for myself: all clothes go in the closet, behind a shut door, and nothing is left on the floor. I must have disobeyed my own rule, because today I came back from work to find a pair of my knickers torn and in a knot - A KNOT! These cute black poodles literally have my panties in a bind. I didn't know dogs knew how to tie knots.
*Sans the sans, of course.