On September 11, having just moved to the UK about 10 days before, I was on a train up to a meeting in Durham, in the North of England, when news started filtering in via mobile phones (I didn't have one myself at the time) and passengers coming on and off the train.
With only the slimmest of facts, most of my family in the New York area, my father working in Manhattan itself, I was beside myself, in a foreign country, moving towards an even-more-foreign city. Only after many hours could I learn that, luckily, my friends and family were spared that tragedy except by the same proximity of the rest of us.
Today, July 7, was similar. I was on a train again, only this time moving toward the chaos. And the flow of information was a little bit better -- I was able to reach some news through my mobile and learn that, well, no one knew quite what was going on. So I let myself be persuaded to continue on into London rather than turn around. Soon afterwards, Paddington Station was closed, and I was briefly trapped in London along with many, many others.
This time, of course, I had to be the one to reassure my friends and family that everything here was all right. My condolences to all those who were caught up in the tragedy.
It's impossible to avoid melodrama after events like this. In London, like New York, the attacks tested our mettle in the face of tragedy, and we stared down the chaos with equanimity, grumbling but unbowed.