I Slept In Today

With less than a month left in London, I’ve tried to minimize how many days I decide to be lazy. Today almost wasn’t one of them. I was planning to wake up early and head to the library to get a start on my final papers, eat lunch along the Thames and walk towards Parliament to get a better look at Big Ben — which I’ve yet to grow tired of seeing.

 

For the first time since going abroad, I’m glad I was lazy today. I slept in and slowly made my way to class like any other Wednesday morning. I sat in class doodling on my notes when a girl in front of me pulled up an article on her laptop that read, “Attack near Parliament.”

 

When coming to London, I never thought that a day like this would come where the beautiful and sepia toned pictures in my mind of this perfect city would be altered. Less than a mile from where I was sitting, lives changed forever. A police officer just lost his life right where I was standing on Saturday after going on a tour of Parliament.

 

Around 2:40 p.m. today, a car ran into crowds walking along Westminster Bridge (the bridge near Big Ben) before heading towards the gates of parliament — striking pedestrians.

 

I opened my phone to the frantic messages full of questions that absolutely no one wants to ever have to be asked — “Please tell me you’re not near Parliament today,” or “Just tell me you’re okay.” My heart sank and I instantly visualized the thoughts running through my parents and sisters’ heads during those 20 minutes that I didn’t have access to my phone. Their fears transcended the miles separating us and seemed to creep into my throat.

 

A terrorist attack is the worst-case scenario that everyone pretends can’t and won’t happen when they’re studying abroad. Studying abroad is supposed to be this completely romantic scenario where you travel the world, find love, friends and yourself. People will always warn you, and your mom will always worry but you always remind yourself of how small the likelihood of it happening is - even if the news might make you feel differently.

 

Exactly a year ago today, 32 victims lost their lives in Brussels due to suicide bombers who detonated three bombs — two in an airport and one in a central Brussels metro station. As much as we want to pretend that these things won’t happen - they do and they happen far too frequently.

 

Unfortunately, there are people out there who want us to live in fear but we can’t let them win. It’s okay to be scared but we can’t allow these events to keep us isolated from people and the world. We need to be strong in order to fight the worst things in life and we can only do that by letting love be a guiding light, not hate or fear.

 

The truth is, life is full of seconds and the briefest decisions that ultimately separate you from the best and worst of things. It’s too soon to tell how many people have been injured and how many people won’t make it out alive — and the uncertainty of all of it is one of the most terrifying things about these situations. I’ve always held London up on this pedestal — picturing how much better my life would be if I could finally live in the dream of London I had created. Despite often never wanting to leave, London finally became very real to me today.

 

The sounds of sirens pierce the London airwaves a bit more than usual tonight and the fear of what could come definitely won’t go away anytime soon. At least three people won’t get to go home again and I’m fortunate enough to have at least one more day to remind the people I love that I love them. London won’t ever feel the same to me as it did in my dreams, it’ll be stronger.