Ever have one of those flashbacks that’s very specific, and you’re not sure why or where it’s coming from? I just had one that made me realize that time is dissolving, and yet things past are closer than I could possibly remember.
Twelve years ago today, I was living in London, a week away from moving back home (and none too happy about it). One of my friends was flying back home that very day, and after a farewell party the night before and protracted goodbyes from all of us that morning, he headed off to Heathrow. It was too quiet, too boring after he left, but we all chided ourselves for feeling so sad about him leaving, since we’d be seeing him stateside in about 10 days. What could possibly happen?
I was just heading out to the South Bank when our phone rang, telling us to turn on the TV, which we ran downstairs and did. We learned that some sort of surface to air missle had been fired at a Heathrow, but that it had missed its intended target (uh….a plane), and had skidded across the tarmac and come to rest. It was such a bizarre, foreign thing for our small group of ex-pats to be watching, as we’d never seen such a thing happen — who’d do such a strange thing? The BBC, as always, covered the event thoroughly and yet went back to normal programs with a knowing, studied and comforting nonchalance that they admirably maintain to this day (which is why I went home and immediately turned on BBC America during the London bombings last summer, refusing to have any part of the scare tactics foisted by domestic news networks: people are scared enough, why should the news source scare them even more?)
Anyway, our friend eventually got to a phone and was able to call and say he was fine, and 7 hours later, he and everyone else were allowed to leave the airport and we finally saw him at the end of the road, dragging his bag back to the flat from the tube station with a bemused and shell-shocked expression on his face. We all went to the pub, talked about it a bit, and then had a relaxing and fun pint-filled evening, much like we’d had just a night before. No worries, no dread.
Why the hell did I remember this today? Not clue, except that the date — March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day — is the same. That said, I’m sort of glad to remember all the same. It reminded me of a much more naive time in my life, where we (as individuals and Americans) felt invincible, that no such thing could happen to us. I will admit, that I’m probably a bit more aware of what goes on around me when I’m out and about, and I’m hella nervous about bags left unattended anywhere and find the owners immediately due to my time in the UK, but for the most part, I hadn’t really changed until a day in September a few years ago, and specifically when the “war on terror” started. I knew that I’d never have that kind of foolish naivete again. Don’t miss it necessarily, but instead I find myself a little more angry every single day that instead of working to minimize the potential for you or I or my pet fish to get blown up, we simply blow up others (Operation Swarmer, I’m looking at you) and call it prevention, when in reality, it’s exactly the damn opposite.
Perhaps, what I’m missing most of all as I remember a day 12 years ago, is that sense of directness and almost brutal honesty that this is what happens in the world, and we find a reasonable way to deal with issues, and we keep on living. What happened, that it seemed so much easier then to just take a breath and keep on living a normal life despite the known dangers, because that’s life? I want that back, and I will have it.
The past is gone, and the future is unwritten.
Or hell, maybe this all came up because I’ve seen too much of about V for Vendetta in the past few days? Go see it, by the way. No, it’s not a direct copy of the comic, but it’s thought-provoking for sure. And for those of you who want no thoughts provoked, it’s a fine popcorn flick, too.
Me? I plan on blowing all of this thinkiness out of my noggin with a nice, loud dose of this band this evening, live at the Croc. If you’re in Seattle tonight and not at that show, well hell, I don’t want to know ya.
From the Easy Street in-store March 7: