Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September Stories...

I’ve never written anything about September 11th before.  I don’t know if I will be able to write anything on September 11th.  So I’ll tell you what happened to me that morning.
I was in college at Columbia which is 5 miles from ground zero.   So I had a rule that no one could call me before nine o’clock, I would go to bed around 2 am.  So around eight in the morning of the 11th my phone kept ringing and ringing and ringing. 
I was so annoyed.  I finally answered it.  It was my dad.  “Don’t go to the World Trade Center, they think there may have been a terrorist attack,” is what he said.
“Why would I go there, I don’t even know how to get there?  Why did you wake me up to tell me this?”  I ranted.  He laughed and hung up.
That would be the last time I spoke to my father on the telephone for like a few days.  All the lines were down after that. 
So since I was up I turned on the TV and the minute I turned it on I saw the second plane go into the second tower.  Chills went up and down my back. 
Then I looked outside my window.  People who didn’t know each other were talking to each other.  Did you hear, they said.  This is worse than Pearl Harbor.  My son, this woman screamed, my son works in that building!  My Son!  She fell to the ground.
These are the echoes I hear in the night sometimes in September. 
I watched TV with my roommate for a few hours than went to the bookstore.  I was assigned a book to read that I had yet to buy.  The credit card and debit card machines weren’t working so I asked the clerk if I could write a check.
He looked at me like he didn’t care if I just took the book and walked out.  I started writing the check.  “What’s the date?” I looked up at him and asked.
“You don’t know the date?  This date’s gonna go down in history and you don’t know what day it is today?  It’s September 11th.”  He declared it like he was writing history himself.
The thing is, I knew the date, I think.  I just, I just, it’s like I needed someone legitimize what was happening.  This surreal dream.
Then I went to my class like a good girl.  What else was I supposed to do?  It turned out that my morning class was cancelled.  There was a sign that said something like, “Class is cancelled.  I’m sorry for anyone’s loss,” or something.
What was I supposed to do?  Eat. Drink. 
That’s what we did a lot of those first few weeks. 
We ate a lot, we drank a lot. 
I didn’t do a single thing, lift a single finger to help a single person.
The only person I could help was myself.  I had to SURVIVE.
I couldn’t go down there either, to ground zero.  No, I couldn’t go there until many months later.
But I remember, I remember, every person who called me to make sure I was alive.
I remember every person who didn’t call.
The lines weren’t working, but those people somehow got through to me.  Some people wrote me emails.  My uncle and my father wrote me an email every day. 
My mother cried.  My sister cried. 
I didn’t cry yet.
Does that make me an unfeeling bitch?

1 comment:

  1. this is such an unusual event, no one really knew what to say, think do. some years ago, i came home to find our street blocked off and several firetrucks and smoke everywhere. and my knee jerk thought was, i hope it is not my house. the house across the street from ours. And shortly after I got home, they stopped fighting the fire and let the house burn to the ground. several of my neighbors said they had the same thought. it is a bit shameful.

    it turned out to be most of us have been on a plane. many of us visited the top of the towers. there are lots of feelings about 911. the knee jerk reaction for those situations at times is ... oh thank goodness i was not on that plane.

    but it was so random that it very well could have been any of us. sad as it is, when we hear about an earthquake in china or armenia and 10, 20, 50 times more were killed that on 911, we just blink as we watch CNN.

    somehow when we can relate to the victims, because most of them were our country men and they were doing things we can relate to, we aren't sure how to act. when we see it on the evening news while we are fixing dinner, we just finish mashing the potatoes and sit down the eat.