Friday, September 11, 2009


Four months into my great adventure into the scary, sexy, exhilarating New York City, it happened. On the day of, and all the days and months that followed, I did not cry. My theory is that my mind built an impenetrable wall. How could anyone ever accept such a horror?

What I Remember:

Sitting at my desk and thinking "God, that's a lot of fire trucks running by, even for New York." Not long after, a friend from work tearing around the corner and yelling that the World Trade Center towers were on fire.

I remember running downstairs to see what was going on, seeing those two towers on fire, and running back upstairs to find out what happened. The phones were jammed, but my mom sent me emails to update me on what she knew from the national news. Terrorist attacks.

We kept running up and down the stairs to watch the buildings, watch the skies. There were people in the streets--literally in the middle of the street. All of that NYC traffic was sporadic and halting, because people were crowding the streets, staring downtown, watching.

I never saw either tower fall. I just saw the aftermath, running down after an email with mom, to see blank. Blank sky, smoke. My friend was screaming on the ground. What did I feel? I felt blank.

They kicked us out of the building because of its historic value (a target, so run). We had nowhere to go--no buses, no subway...good luck getting a taxi, but to where? In the chaos in the streets--so many people, so upset, in shock--I managed to get a hold of my mom for one moment on the cell. I lied, because I did cry when she asked me if I was okay. I said I was okay. I was not okay.

Meg let me come with her to her apartment on the lower east side. The only TV available was a Spanish station--all the rest were knocked out when the towers fell--so Meg had to translate what was happening. She told me how to get home--over the Brooklyn bridge and down 4th avenue.

I walked across the bridge. It was very quiet. When we reached the Brooklyn side, there were rows upon rows of banquet tables set up, hasidic Jews stationed and ready with fresh water for us to drink. I remember shaking, taking the water, thinking only of getting home. There were fleets of buses waiting. I boarded one with no idea of where it went. I overheard another girl asking someone where to go--she was going to Park Slope, so I followed her. The trains were running again in Brooklyn. I took the red line to Grand Army Plaza and from there I knew my way home.

Nothing terrible happened to me that day. I was scared--the spike of terror happened just outside the flatiron building, kicked out of the building, hearing the sound of jets overhead, and finally getting ahold of my mom. Not knowing what was happening was extremely terrifying. Nonetheless, I went wholly cold. I had my moment of trembling and tears, but I locked it up, shut it down, and kept moving.

What I Remember

It took many months (a year? more?) for the smell to dissipate. It reeked of burnt circuits, hot metal...and whatever you could imagine that smell might be. Going back to work, trying to play adult, like life goes on, like nothing has changed, couldn't negate that smell of destruction and horror.

My friends, their true and clear feelings, and the safety of their presence. Chris and Julia called me over to their building on the night of 9/11. We went to the roof and watched the floodlights and smoke. Chris could not stop crying. I remember looking at her and wondering what was wrong with me.

I remember going to The Gate, a local pub in the neighborhood, drinking and toasting in remembrance of the lost. I remember how raw it felt, having happened just weeks before, and I remember the camaraderie that was so quick, easy, and common in those days. I remember watching the concert for the 9/11 families and survivors, when The Who came on and the three of us were screaming and jumping and so fucking happy to be feeling anything other than hurt.

I remember this song. I lay on my bed at night, played it at 10 with hot, dry eyes. I did not cry. I thought about those walls of photos, "Have You Seen Him?," "My Mother Was In Tower 2," and in the arms of this song, thinking of nothing but those families.

I am not sure why it is hitting me so hard this year. Perhaps I am just too much in my own head these days. It is important to remember. That's enough, right?


Blogger Flushy McBucketpants said...

i remember being completely clueless. my across-the-hall neighbor in my dorm was running down the hall yelling "the tower fell! the tower fell!" i had just woken up, probably after a long night in the theater and summarily ignored what the commotion was about, instead wallowing in my standard morning lethargic routine. scoot over to my computer, check the email inbox, check the washington post where i saw the headline. immediately i went looking for video clips of what was happening, entirely oblivious to the fact that EVERYONE else in my dorm was in the common room watching the news on the gigantic projection television.

still somewhat at a loss regarding the events unfolding, which most people probably were as there was very little concrete information being passed along other than the facts of the physical destruction, my immediate thought when i finally got it through my thick head that the world trade center towers had collapsed was "no more krispy kreme."

i'd just spent the summer prior living in brooklyn and spent half my weekend mornings parked in line at the TKTS booth on the ground floor of the south tower. in preparation for a good long wait for tickets to kiss me kate or bat boy: the musical, i always stopped at 5 WTC's krispy kreme outpost to buy two or three doughnuts to chow down on while i skimmed through the fairly crappy comics i saved from the recycling at the Marvel offices.

the WTC krispy kreme was the first i'd ever had and was a revelation for me as far as fried dough goes. (little did i realize that every new fried dough concoction i come across is a revelation.) and it was really the only way i could comprehend destruction on that scale.

the rest of the day was a bit odd. most of the rest of my peers were freaking the fuck out. there was some uncontrollable sobbing—in public!—and people huddled in circles trading exclamations while gesticulating like the they were pleading insanity. my film professor, for once, stopped being a hard-ass about attendance.

i hobbled around our little utopic arboretum of higher learning—only a couple hours north of the chaos—generally disgruntled, but not about mayhem and death. rather, i was upset about the tendinitis in my knee, which was causing sharp shooting pains up my leg seemingly at random. i complained to my friend that i probably wouldn't be able to play soccer for months, and that for all i knew, i tore my ACL. she took my self-absorption well and didn't hold it against me.

there are no lessons here.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like I should be surprised that you lied when you told me you were all right. I always figure you're lying when it's a stressful time. You could tell me the truth you know. I can handle it. It's my way of saying I'm here and you can tell me anything Lovey.

5:22 PM  

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