It was a morning like any other morning. Except it wasn't. I was living in a grad student housing in London near Kings Cross Station. Classes were done, exams were over, all that was left was my dissertation, so I spent most of my days in the library researching and writing.
Not having class anymore meant there was no need to get out of bed before 9am, so I was barely coherent when it happened. At least, when the first ones went off. I was fully awake for the bus bombing. That was an accident they said. It was supposed to go off in the tube, but something had happened. I can't remember.
Really my memories of the day are fuzzy in general. 9/11 is the one that's burned into my brain. But maybe that's because we'd just come back into our dorm room from an 8am fire drill and had turned on the radio before the first plane went into the Towers. This time it was all on the web. I turned on my computer to a myriad of IMs. Or at least I think I did.
- I just heard, are you ok?
- I can't get through, call me.
- Are you ok?
- Message me back!
At some point during the day, I put up an IM status: "Don't worry, I'm fine." And I got my first confused message.
Lena: Why wouldn't you be fine?
Me: You didn't hear about the Tube bombing?
Lena: Oh, I did, but it was too early for you to be awake.
She knows me so well.
Shannon was on her way to her internship. I think she was in the train after the one that got hit at Kings Cross. I had plans with my boyfriend, but he was freaking out, and there were no trains running to get to South London anyway. After a while, he adopted my stoicism but it felt false on him. His dad had been at Edgware Road...or was it Liverpool Street....
There was no going anywhere that day. We sat in our common room gathered around the TV. Just like four years earlier at Wellesley. It was hard for me not to make the comparison, or to think about it as I sat there watching footage of the bus burning.
The area around the bus was roped off for weeks afterwards. I walked past it every day on the way to the library. The remnants sat under a white tarp as the investigation continued.
The Tube returned to normal. Life returned to normal. We finished our dissertations and went our separate ways. In the ten years since, some of us have gotten married. Some have had children. We've quit jobs and found new ones. We've moved continents. A few of us have even reunited for a while before moving on again. Facebook is our regular connection to each other. But still every year I look for the quiet reminder, buried deep in the BBC website, that that day was different.