Friday, August 03, 2007

Big Stuff Close To Home

A few days ago I had it all planned. I was going to begin with something to the effect that I was grieving Minnesota's big loss. Kevin Garnett (I'm an avid basketball fan) was traded. I was going to talk about change, about adjusting to the ever-changing dynamics in my household (granddaughters are back--big joy, big adjustment). I had some happy photos including a new one of me in front of the mini-apple, that beloved Minneapolis icon.

But suddenly Minneapolis is in all the headlines. I was playing with the girls on Wednesday when my son had a call from a friend. One of those heart-stopping 2 second calls. "Are you watching the news? Turn it on now." Click.

By now everyone knows what we saw, and you know that when it's that close to home, it's mind-numbing. When they started showing the video of the actual collapse yesterday, it was like watching the twin towers go again. Smaller scale, of course, but the impossible unfolding before your very eyes is the visual definition of mind-blowing. My sister couldn't get a call through to me until Thursday, and she said that no matter how small the chances that I was on that bridge, she needed to hear my voice to be sure.

That part of the city is familiar to most of us who live in the Twin Cities area. 35W is notorious for gridlock. I don't drive downtown (or anywhere else) if I can help it, but I teach at the Loft Literary Center two or three times a year, and that's near the bridge. So is the new Guthrie and the Metro dome. So we watch the pictures on TV, and we're there.

The collapse of the bridge is a local Winter Count event. (The Lakota winter count was a pictorial history in which a single event represented a whole year.) It's the Halloween Storm, the assassination of JFK or MLK, the earthquake, the flood. It will affect most of us in some way, have a ripple effect--maybe the nation will start taking our deteriorating infrastructure more seriously--and the pictures will stay in our minds.

What are your thoughts about Winter Count Events?


Helen Brenna said...

I watched the news Wednesday night in a state of shock. No, this was nothing like the Twin Towers, but it was oh, so close to home.

My daughter had several friends at the Twins game in the Metrodome and since she couldn't reach them on their cell phones it took a while to convince her that there was no reason for them to have been on that bridge.

You're right, Kathy, this is time marker. It's too bad things like this have to happen before priorities are adjusted.

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, I'm 1500 miles away, in Florida, but when my youngest son called to say the bridge had collapsed and he couldn't reach his brother or sister-in-law via phone, I was alarmed. Watching the pictures, I felt like I was right back there in Minnesota, holding my breath like everyone else.

It turns out my eldest son was in the dome at the Twins game and cell reception is terrible there. I finally got in touch with him and he asked me to call my daughter-in-law. . . whom he had been unable to reach. It was phone tag, back and forth, from across the country! (Everyone in my family was fine.)

But I thought of everyone I know and love in the Minneapple and I lit a candle. I've have had one burning since then.

Big events like this stay with us for a long time. . . and put things into perspective when we face even the possibility of losing those we love.

Yep, it's time we started taking care of the infrastructure instead of taking it for granted.

Kathleen Eagle said...

The entire TC was asked not to use cell phones except for emergencies and attempts to call family Wed night because the services were jammed. My sister in CT kept getting the "all circuits are busy" on the land line. Amazing how helpless we feel when none of our hookups work. Imagine what it must have been like back in the old days when you had family in an disaster area. You wouldn't know for days.

I finally see why a person might want to have text messaging.

Christie Ridgway said...

I was glued to the TV like everyone else. When I watch the video I have this urge to go up to the screen and put my hands up to hold the bridge in place. The stories from the people on the scene are wrenching.

Glad the Riders are okay but my heart goes out to everyone who has lost family or friend.

FIONA said...

I sent out an e mail to family/ friends all over the country to let them know we were all ok. I was still getting calls at midnight from them, "Just to be sure."

My DH was at the scene, working, from 7-after midnight. He said all of the professionals were wonderful, amazing......, we should all be proud of the work they do every day. Until a tragedy like this happens, I forget how hard they train and prepare.

BTW, our family makes sure to thank our local Fire and Police Depts every 9/11.

Keri Ford said...

Things like this are just terrible. My husband called me and told me about the work. The whole thing is sad.

Anything something like this is just so sad.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathleen: Like everyone else I watched in horror and hope for everyone involved. The odd thing is that my husband and I have regularly talked about the lack of attention to our infrastructure in this country. When you say something like, "A bridge is going to fall down if these people don't do something." ...well, you don't actually expect that to happen. You think you're using hyperbole. And then a bridge falls down and it's very scary.

I hope it's a wake up call and we start spending money for the "everyday" projects and valuing what we've built instead of the constant mad rush to build more.