We tend to take that closest to us for granted. It can be people, it can be our culture, or it can even be locations. One of the places that has become an adoptive home for me is Manchester. It is where I choose to spend most of my time. It is where my husband works. It is where I work. It is where I feel a part of the community and a city where I am always in search of discovery. It is also a city that I don’t write enough about because it has become a city that just like that trusted friend, one inadvertently takes for granted.
A city so vibrant and full of life that the tragedy that has come to our doorstep cannot overshadow that entirely. It’s been a little over 24 hours since I woke up to the news of what happened, and in a feeble attempt to reconcile my thoughts around this disastrous occasion I choose to do what I think I do best, write.
In situations like this one doesn’t really know what to say. There is nothing one can say to others and certainly nothing one can say to quiet the internal dialogue. There are so many feelings of injustice, rage, and predominantly hurt that can all swirl within us changing course just like the wind.
There are many questions one has and no one to answer them. There is a sense of vulnerability that overwhelms the senses and clouds all logic. One tries to reassure oneself of what the minuscule odds are of this happening to us, and as well meaning as that may be it doesn’t reassure at all.
The reality is this happened at our doorstep. It happened where we live, where we play, where we do business, and where we attempt to go on with our lives just like any other member of society does. It happened to our people. It happened to parents who allowed their teenage children to experience their first concert. It happened to the children who are curiously exploring the world around them and embracing the simple joy that is music. It happened to innocent people who were living their reality.
With this in mind, here is my humble ode to Manchester.
There is no answer to such a convoluted question. Not one that can help us wrap our brain around something that has touched us in such a direct way. There is no answer that will suffice. No answer that can give anyone any comfort or any feeling of protection and safety. There is nothing one can say, and nothing one can do to answer this question.
What I do know is that there are many people who are responsible. Those who choose to use their apparent power to put money first and humanity much further down the line, if it even has a place at all. These events happen in this country, on this continent, and whether people want to open their eyes about the reality of it or not, these events also happen to innocent people in the countries that one chooses to turn a blind eye to.
Now we shy away from public transport. Now we cross the street when we see somebody that “looks suspicious” solely because of their attire or the colour of their skin. Now we become racist. Now we condemn those who haven’t been in this country for generations. Is that what we do?
NO. It is not.
Now we just pick up the pieces and attempt to carry on. Now we put our humanity to the test. Now we love those around us. Now we become compassionate to our neighbours and friends who have been lumped in with the rotten people that they don’t personally know. Now we embrace those around us and those that need our help. There are many victims when an incident like this takes place, not just the obvious.
If you’re the praying kind, you pray. If you’re the charitable kind, you do your bit for charity. Whatever you feel your strengths are you use them as if they were your secret super power that can no longer be hidden from the world.
It takes time to figure things out beyond this ode to Manchester. It takes time to come to terms with loss. It takes time to discover what our role is and what we can bring to the table.
This is not my country. Not by birth, but this is my country by choice. I am an anglophile through and through and the love I feel for this land is immense. I remember September 11, and even though I was thousands of miles away in my sleepy Texas town, I remember the feeling. It is one I hoped never to feel again.
This time I felt it in a much deeper way. I suppose it may be because I am older, and dare I say wiser. It may be the proximity. I don’t know why, but this has shaken me and I am still suffering from the aftershocks. Those that I know will dissipate and leave only the damage and confusion behind. Not only for myself, of course not, but for so many of those directly and indirectly affected.
The last I will say is this, I will not vilify an entire community for the acts of one person. Part of this ode to Manchester is saying that I refuse to be a pawn in the game. I choose humanity and love above all else. Though that doesn’t mean that I am naive. I am aware of the realities of life, but I choose not to succumb to terror. I choose to love, and above all, I choose to live. That is the best ode to Manchester I can give.
My heart goes out to those directly affected by this cowardly attack – by the loss of a loved one, injuries, disappearances, and so on. My most sincere condolences and prayers are with you. xx