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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why Families Moved After 9/11

A lot of families moved after 9/11 to get away from the unseeable horror. We moved after 9/11. And we moved because of 9/11. Yes there were other reasons, but ten years out I see how we were 9/11 refugees. We moved because our house had become smaller and there were some crime issues in our area, but the canvas of the tent was composed of fear. The fear was that Chicago would be hit and a dirty bombs radiation would engulf us on the edge of the city. Suddenly being eight miles away from the Sears Tower did not seem enough. We had to get further.

Four years after 9/11 is when we departed for the countryside. The anthrax mailings had started to taper off but we still had duct tape and plastic for the chemical attacks. Remember that? Rolls and rolls of duct tape to stop the seeping anthrax or whatever biological warfare agent came seeping our way. Our zone of safety had been reduced to our basement and the feeling that the world had gone crazy was every increasing. The war in Iraq was raging and the Homeland Security Czar was calling for another attack any day. It wasn't a matter of if but when.

So we found a place in the country in the furthest suburb. One stop before the end of the train line. We were so far out we heard Coyotes whining at night. We saw deer regularly. A wide open Prairie sky. There were no sirens, no sound of impending doom. We were like Dr. Zhivago running for the countryside away from a world gone mad. And so we sat in our splendid isolation, sure that if they did bomb Chicago then we would be the last to go.

Now ten years have come and gone and it is very clear why we made this choice. It never really fit us. We were urbanites and still are. The people who we have met are nice but their eyes question our membership. We never quite fit because we didn't make our decision in normal circumstances. We were pushed by fear, a fear that terrorism would swallow us up. And we lost something in the trade off. Certainly we lost friends, but more we lost our community.

Of course I cannot lay it all at the feet of Osama Bin Laden. We might have moved anyway, certainly we would have never moved as far. But we are 9/11 refugees and like any refugees we just want to return to our home. Maybe the era of 9/11 is ending, because we are thinking of moving again. We aren't sure where, but it will be toward the city this time.

Books by William Hazelgrove