Last week, just up the street, there was terror. There were a couple of really bad guys, maiming and killing people. Boston and its suburbs were locked down as one suspect, armed and dangerous, eluded capture.
Here on Cape Cod, we were perfectly safe; nobody trying to elude capture flees to a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean, accessible only by bridge or boat. The trauma and horror, the grief and the fear, were as remote to us as if we’d been in Nebraska. Kevin and I followed the news intermittently, and went about our business.
We’ve never aspired to self-sufficiency, but interconnectedness never feels as important as when there is terror, just up the street.
On September 11th, we lived in New York. Kevin’s apartment, where we were that day, was literally in the shadow of the south tower of the World Trade Center. When it fell, we stood in a closet doorway, the way you’re supposed to in an earthquake, and hoped it wouldn’t fall on us. We didn’t leave the building until that afternoon, when we walked through the rubble, to my Upper West Side apartment, and moved in together.
I remember dinner. We went out, to the Chinese place down the street. Everyone, it seems, was out. We were all talking to the people on the corner, the people in line, the people at the next table. We were New Yorkers on a day when we were all New Yorkers.
I don’t want a life that sets me apart from my fellow man. I value the connections that interdependence fosters; they are the neurons of civilization. In times of trouble, I don’t want to go to ground, with my husband and my root cellar and my generator. I want to reach out, and to know that we’re all in this together.
Kevin and I have freezers full of food, a lake full of water, and a property with enough wood to heat our house and cook our dinner in perpetuity. We have tools. We have skills. We have guns. Come Armageddon, those would look like the building blocks of survival. But, come Armageddon, I’ll go down with the ship, thank you very much. The idea that we’d hunker down on our two acres, trying to protect what’s ours against desperate people who aren’t so lucky, is more distasteful to me than any fiery end.
Tonight, for dinner, I scrambled eggs from our chickens with bacon from our pigs and onions from our cellar and garlic from our friends. It was, as it always is, profoundly satisfying to eat food that we grew, food that we knew. I love our two acres, and what we’ve done with them. But I never miss cities, and neighbors, and humanity, as much as when there is terror, just up the street.