Five years ago today, my mom and I were in England’s Lake District. We were sitting in a taxi in a church parking lot when the driver asked us, “Did you hear about London?” I mumbled “Oh, yeah…,” thinking he was referencing London’s winning bid for the 2012 Olympics, which had recently been announced.
The only word of his response that I remember now is “bombing.”
Earlie that day, suicide bombers had attacked three subway cars and a bus. My mom and I were shocked and saddened. I don’t remember when exactly we returned to London…if it was a day or two after the bombings. It must have been very soon after, because when we got off the train at King’s Cross in London, we saw the crime scene surrounding the bombed bus.
I only have a few other specific memories of that time. I remember riding the subway one afternoon…it must have been a weekend afternoon. There were only two other people in my subway car. On a major subway line in London. In the middle of the day. (People were supposed to use public transportation only if necessary.)
I also remember leaving flowers at a makeshift memorial at King’s Cross. And seeing missing persons flyers everywhere. And sitting at an R.E.M. concert in Cardiff, two days after the bombings, and singing along to “Everybody Hurts.” And feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I had never been that close to terrorism. That close to the fear, vulnerability, and devastation that people in some countries live with on a daily basis.
Here is an article in today’s Guardian.