I feel I need to start this with a disclaimer. The world changed this week with events around the country, and around the globe, that will have a profound impact on communities forever. It didn’t feel right to be writing about my favorite books or favorite movies and expecting you to read about it. That said, I can only really share the times my world changed with you. Events that change my world may seem inconsequential to you, and I respect that. I put this list together as a reminder to myself that change comes from huge, loud events and from small, silent events. Both kinds of change are valid. I hope you enjoy this reflection.
My mother remembered where she was when she heard JFK was killed. I remember where I was, and what I was doing, when the planes hit the Twin Towers in New York City. I was a freshman in college and rushing through my morning routine alongside my roommate when another girl on our floor walked in – we had codes to access our rooms, not keys – said nothing and turned on the TV.
The first plane had just hit, and in the following hours, days and weeks, the newsreels were a constant replaying of the now iconic images of smoke billowing from buildings so tall that nothing stood around them, just uninterrupted blue sky.
America has never been the same.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I travelled to London through an amazing program that helped me get a six month work visa and lived and worked in the city of Shakespeare for a summer. Weeks before my return home, my dad called to tell me that my mother had died the night before. She was diabetic, but she hadn’t been particularly sick. It was very sudden, and then she was gone.
There is still a lot I don’t remember about getting home from London. There was a kind man who sat beside me on the plane and told me stories about his kids with a soft Irish accent. There was a coworker who took me home from the office and helped me pack my things. There was a friend in Chicago who came to the airport for my layover just to make sure I ate something before getting on my second flight.
I was 19, and I have never been the same.
It was just another hurricane in hurricane country until the levees broke. Then whole communities were washing away, the 24 hour news cycle went into overdrive, and the image of President Bush surveying the devastation from the comfort of a helicopter became iconic as people suffered and Washington didn’t mobilize fast enough.
Volunteers rushed to aid, donations poured in, and New Orleans started on its long, long road to recovery.
I don’t know that New Orleans or the country that watched the waters rise and engulf will ever be the same.
At 23, my siblings changed the game of never-ending questions about my singleness at family gathers by procreating. That first grandkid/niece – who is pretty damn cute, if I do say so – changed the focus of every family gathering after.
I adore my nieces and nephews – there are four of them now – and wouldn’t go back in time for anything. But they definitely changed my world. From the moment I held one in my arms, nothing revolved around me anymore.
Okay, that’s not true. I’m being honest here. I’m still pretty me-centric.
The kids my siblings had have definitely put everything into a different perspective though. Of course I recycle everything I can. There are children who need a planet to live on when they’re older. Stupid decisions? I have to be a role model not a cautionary tale.
Again, I’ll never be the same.
There is little I feel I can say on the repercussions of last Monday’s bombing that you probably don’t already know. In addition to the loss of life, the great quantity of injured, and the heroism and determination of the Boston people, public debate has vaulted into a new stratosphere. (And I really do mean that the 24 hour news cycle has covered all of the heart-wrenching details to such an extent that I do not want to recap them here…again.)
Can journalism recover after their multitude of screw ups this week? A reporter tweeted asking for people who “knew” the suspects to DM her because she wanted to interview them. She has now deleted the tweet and blamed a “well-meaning producer”. Yes, seriously.
Elected officials voted down stricter measures for gun control and passed CISPA legislation that allows websites to harvest your personal information without a warrant. They also made insensitive jokes, and publicly recommended throwing constitutionally-mandated rights – like representation and indefinite jailing without trial – out as they apply to the one suspect who was successfully captured alive.
In America, the world has changed, and continues to change, again.
Let us also not forget the other way the world changed last week:
A fertilizer plant blew up near Waco, Texas. Not everything is sure as I write this but the latest reports say that 14 are dead – 11 of them possibly first responders and firefighters – and hundreds are displaced. It will take time and funds to rebuild.
Who knows what next week will bring?