7/7/2005- 10th Anniversary
It’s been 10 years since my first grand adventure. 10 years since I traveled to Europe for a month putting my life and trust in the hands of total strangers. 10 years since frantic phone calls between parents and children and tears shed by both.
10 years ago today, London was bombed. The buses and the underground. Just 4 short years after the towers were hit in New York. I remember both equally. I was thousands of miles away in Spanish class when the towers were hit. I had just crossed the English Channel and was in France when London was thrust into turmoil, chaos, and catastrophe. There was no mom picking me up and holding me close when I was scared after London. Just the people around me who, in 8 or 9 days had become the closest thing I would have to family.
We were all on the bus or had just stopped at one of our typical bathroom breaks/food stops when we got the news. The company that ran the trip I was on had several similar trips running that year so there were other groups still in England. We never rode public transport but as anyone knows a bomb on a bus or under the ground can cause damage, injury, and death to anything around it. The trips still in London reported to our trip leader what was happening. Our leaders did their best to inform us in the gentlest way possible. For many of us, it wasn’t TOO big of a deal. We were all mostly American and “had been through this before”. Several people were from the New York and Tri-State area. It was scary but we weren’t there. It’s hard to be scared of something you’ve never directly experienced. But we were all concerned that the rest of the cities we were due to visit were now on high alert. Every city after London had more police and military out than I would assume is usual.
Once told, we all grabbed our cell phones if we had them or bought phone cards or shared our phones and called home. I think it was about 6 am in Houston when I called my mom. She wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. She had just woken up and turned on the news to see the headlines. I sure that was a huge shock for her. We had a much longer phone call that night once the full magnitude of what had really been going on set in. Everyone, our parents, and we were all shaken and confused but ok. Except for one person.
His name was Geoff. His parents and younger siblings were in England. Last Geoff had heard, they were in London. One can only imagine the panic and the flood of emotions going through him. For the better part of the day he was on the phone, trying to find out where they were but as everyone was using cell service in and around London, it was very difficult to get through. Later that day, close to the evening he got word that they were safe and not in the city. Geoff hid his emotions well. Amazingly well! He split off from the trip for a few days shortly afterward to be with his family once they reached France. Knowing myself at the time, I would have just left altogether.
It’s amazing how people you barely know will come together in situations like this. I would have let and done let any person on my trip who needed a phone use mine. Even if we hadn’t spoken that much or if we had already decided we weren’t going to be close to this trip, it didn’t matter. We were all each other had in that experience. We looked out for each other.