Monday, September 12, 2005

Two months on. Drinks, a party and the odd jitter

I started to get the jitters the day before the 7th of September. I got on the tube at Finsbury Park, late again, and it was crowded again. More and more people crushed on. Like they did before. And I looked about me in carriage one as we neared Kings Cross and I realised that I was in the 'wrong' part of the carriage. Not near the front of carriage one, where I'd survived, and where I'd travelled ever since, but in the middle. Where the bomb had been. And then young men got on. With rucksacks. And my heartbeat sped up and I swayed, and I began to run with sweat. I could smell my own fear. And as more and more people pushed on at Kings Cross, I looked at my watch. 8.49am. I forced my way off the carriage and stumbled up to the mainline station. Lit a cigarette with shaky hands, got in the queue for a cab, mouth dry.

The next day, and the next, I took taxis. On the 7th I was tearful, but work was so busy there was simply no time to worry about it. And on the 8th, Kings Cross United met up for a drink, and the shared camaraderie of fellow train-passengers - and too much wine again - meant that the fear receded to manageable proportions and by the Friday, I was back on track.More or less.

By the end of the week, I was tired out but okay. Saturday I had a massage, got my nails done, went shopping for birthday presents for my friends. Saturday night we went ot a bar and danced and anced, then went back to Jane's house to continue celebrating her 40th. The party went on until ten in the morning. Friends I have known for almost a decade were there. My sister was there. We were wild. Sometimes you need to celebrate life very loudly, with music and dancing and wine.

Even if you have to spend Sunday in bed recovering all day.

Another friend Liz emailed me unexpectedly, we had lost touch some years ago after she had her child. She had read my BBC diary, had moved out of London weeks before to a new job in Scotland, had thought that she knew the voice of the writer but told herself that it couldn't be me. But it was, and it was lovely to hear from her again.

Today I was back on the tube. And I'm going to keep at it. For the sake of all the people who think of me, for the sake of all the people who I only know through emails or who I have never spoken to but who read this and wish me well. For the sake of myself and all my fellow passengers. Life goes on. Even if you are afraid, it's better to travel to work and to catch up with friends and to carry on as normal. And it's better to drink and to dance than to hide at home, frightened and angry.

It's always better to dance, and to laugh, and to hug friends. Take that, Al Quaida.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel. Your story ripped at my heart. How you have suffered but had the strength to recover. I read your story word by word to feel the impact, and it tore at my heart. I see myself in your position, the suffering that goes unnoticed, because there isn't an open wound to comfort you about. The inner conflict that yells "how unfair, why me". Thank God for J who has stood by you, he is one in a million. I am pleased the Times let you tell this in your own words. It made for major impact. No one who could read it couldn't picture your horror.

November 27, 2005 6:35 pm  

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