The phone pings. It must be time to get up. It’s still dark out but its winter and the alarm is meant to be early. It’s breaking news from the BBC app and not the alarm. I must change the setting. It’s only 1:30am.
145 people are dead in a terrorist attack. Taliban. Peshawar. Dead school children. The objective is to kill as many as possible. This is not about hostages and demands. Terror.
There is a sense of disconnect as I head further and further out into the world. I’m finding less and less common grounds between friends and myself. New friends who will understand and share a conversation about the world at this level haven’t shown up yet. This is intermission and I’m standing at the concession alone. I went out to see, experience and report on the world up close, making me a great dinner party guest, “you must meet her, she just got back from Pakistan!” but a lousy conversationalist. Trivial and frivolous gets harder and harder. Recently at a good friend’s wedding, I caught myself reading BBC headlines instead of paying attention to the celebration of her happiness.
Don’t get me wrong. My friends are lovely. They are educated, smart, well informed and cultured —- but we will always be creatures in reaction to our environment —- the business of Hollywood and Entertainment, the ups and downs of Advertising and Start Ups, the struggles of being artists.
It’s different now, when you’ve seen it up-close. When you can see the children in their school uniforms, Shalwar Kameez with green sweater on top and baseball hat, before you scroll down to the photographs from the wire reports. When you can locate the city on a map, when you’ve been there or not far from it. It’s not that you have something to say and no one is listening, rather you can attach names and faces and smiles and scent to the place. Everything is less abstracted.
There is a book on my shelve, Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq. I started long while ago but got distracted and have yet to come back. It would be easy to criticize the frivolous or trivial and those engaged in it, this celebrity, that show, the new restaurant. But what if everyone is just trying to hold on to their ordinary day a little longer?