The Sydney seige

I am way overdue on a a lot of posts. Clearly, the new job has been taking up a lot of time.

Yesterday, at 10am, I went into an hour long meeting, and my phone started going a bit nuts with messages. Mostly from my husband. I tried not to look. They were a bit vague, didn’t seem like anything crazy urgent.

We came out of the meeting to an office full of stunned mullets. Tv going, people talking in small clusters, scrolling through news sites. Isis. Sydney. I rang hub in boots.

What?

Isis. Sydney. Hostages.

What?

In the next half hour, the tv channels spoke of suspicious packages and shut downs of george st, the opera house, or a possible ring of sites around the city.

What?

I tried to sit down and work. I messaged mum to say I was safe. We aren’t close close to the lindt cafe. We are six blocks away. But I just kept thinking “the people on 9/11 thought they wouldn’t be affected. And they were.”

I posted on Facebook to test the waters. Friends, family urged me to leave. Then the comments started, almost following a geographic line through the city, as one by one those in the city went into lockdown. They couldn’t leave. I asked my bosses boss what the plan was. I passed on about all the lockdowns. Nothing happened.

At 12:10, the boss said to me you have to leave now or you won’t be able to. I called it and left, fully prepared to walk home. When the ferry was running, I took the risk and caught it home.

The ferry was full of people. Jam packed. At that stage, most other public transport had stopped. So a lot of people took their entire staff and headed for the ferry. People were sharing information as they got it. I spoke to a couple who didn’t know what was going on, having just got off a cruise ship before catching a train home to Melbourne that night.

The city had an eerie vibe. It was too quiet.

I didn’t care what the issue was, or how extensive it was, I didn’t want to be in the city to find out. I wanted my mum and sister not to worry. I wanted to see my husband. I wanted to hold jman.

I worked at home with one eye on the news all afternoon, conscious that we wouldn’t have it on when jman was around. We watched it a little bit in the evening.

I saw in horror as the twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and comments on news stories turned racist and dark. Those with closet agendas just waiting for a chance to air their narrow mindedness, to bang on the drum of their ill conceived rhythm of turn back the boats.

I saw it turn again as the #illridewithyou hash tag went viral, with people showing solidarity with Muslims trying to peacefully travel public transport, pointing to a bigger theme and an understanding we are not in the days of the Cronulla riots: that that shit is never ok.

I checked and checked that friends, loved ones, were ok.

I was saddened, surprised, deeply regretful to wake to news of deaths of hostages. A barrister, wife &mother of three. Another young and selfless man died; the cafe manager (who it turns out went to school with a work colleague’s kids).

I’ve had a few moments like this lately. Where all the shit we are mired in day to day, the Christmas lists, the dumb niggles with people, the worries, they all turn to ghosts, to something less than shadows when a big bright light is shined on them. The big bright light of “life is short and people are precious”. The one that turns drab days into high colour relief with a mere flick of the mindset. When the “I’m bored” becomes “I’m alive”. Or the “you annoy me” becomes “you complete me”. These moments in life have a significance, a gravitas, that outweighs their discomfort.

Today was a sombre day in Sydney. Two people did not make it out yesterday. Fifteen others are changed forever. The racists have mostly been hushed, sticking their small minds back into small boxes. And all day, I couldn’t wait to get home. To hang out. To just be.

Sydney might have just lost her innocence in the last twenty four hours. But I hope the post seige Sydney will continue to rise out of these ashes, and a new wave of tolerance, of compassion, of open arms for other cultures will rise and rise and rise and flood everything else, carrying the racism far far away.

Tonight my hub in boots was feeling crook. He laid down early. And I fed and bathed and washed up solo, without a hint of hurrumph. I recorded my sons silly going to bed conversation that went on forever. Later, I’ll share it.

Now I think I’ll pop into the bedroom for a while, and watch my hub in boots sleep.

Sleep safe x