It would be an understatement to say that the events of the last two weeks have been shocking. First Manchester and then Borough Market. These two attacks have rocked the UK. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.
Naturally such events make us reflect on our own lives. They shine a spotlight on the paths our lives are taking and the choices we have made for our families. This is true for me anyway. Having adopted London as my hometown fifteen years ago I have not been naive to the risks of living in such a big city. However, the vibrancy and energy of the capital has drawn me in and it would be difficult to see us moving away from here now.
Yet, I feel uneasy. The atmosphere, as I expect is the same in other large metropolises too, is tense. Yes, London is open. Yes Londoners continue to go about their business as usual. Yes there are some wonderful displays of positivity and courage around the place. However, my mind plays tricks on me and before I know it I am taken back to the days after the 7th July attack in 2005. The summer of 2005 when London was tense. Uncertain. Subdued.
We were living in Kilburn, northwest London at the time. I remember continuing with life ‘as normal’ as we were told to do. Getting on the tube and buses and going out in central London. Yet, it wasn’t normal. I looked over my shoulder much more. I thought A LOT about the people around me. I began to get off buses a few stops earlier because panic was taking hold, berating myself for doing so but not being able to stop myself either.
And so we all looked like it was ‘business as usual’ but for some Londoners, like me, I’m not sure it really was. However time passed and normality did seem to return.
But, yet again, following the Westminster and London Bridge attacks, there is a ‘new normal’.
This time though I’m not a twenty-something young professional with few ties and responsibilities. I’m finding it even harder to carry on in the same way as before. I have 3 children now. We live a 12 minute train ride away from London Bridge and my husband commutes into town every day. We were out in Borough Market on Friday night. Life will be the same…but different.
And yet there is so much to love about living and working in this part of the world. The children have so many opportunities on their doorstep and the community that we live in is warm, friendly, diverse and tolerant.
What I suppose I am trying to say is that we are forever weighing up what is best for our families. And sometimes this rumination can be helpful. Sometimes not. For now I’ve decided not to ruminate too much more and just to get on with our London life. As a friend and colleague also living in London wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday morning:
“Unlike millions of others, we are safe this morning. The world is no different than it was yesterday, last week, last year. It is just as violent and as venal, as beautiful and wondrous. We are truly citizens of that world.”
Life goes on and so must we.
Take care and much love.