Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember...


Re-posted from the original: Where Were You?

I was standing at the kitchen sink filling the coffee pot with water. I had the radio on, listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. They took a break from the national feed at ~5:48am for local news or weather. Same as the day before. Same as the day before that.

“I don’t know what this means, but we just received a report that a small plane has struck the World Trade Center,” the local announcer says at the break.

I looked out the window. I switched on the TV. I watched the second plane fly into the tower.

I stopped thinking.

While I sat frozen I knew I wasn’t alone. I thought of so many other people who must be transfixed at the same moment.

While that happened a third plane hit the Pentagon.

Life changed in those moments. I had the luxury of sitting in shock on my couch. But some people had to keep going. There were people to rescue in New York and Washington. There were other planes in the sky. There were policemen and firemen and air traffic controllers and military staffers and commanders who needed to do their jobs.

There were citizens who needed to act, to do something, to prevent a fourth plane from wreaking its havoc on one of America’s cities.

Please make the time to see United 93. Remember the moment you first heard of the attack against America. Marvel at the fact that within only an hour and a half our fellow Americans had managed to organize and counter attack and prevent a complete victory by our enemy.

A few hours into the experience, I struggled to restore normalcy.  I forced myself to switch off the TV and go into my morning routine.  Shower.  Dress.  Grab the laptop, keys, wallet.  Walk to the door.  Open the door.  Walk...

I could not.

I could not cross the threshold.  Outside that door was I was unprotected.  Outside that door I had to drive the freeway through downtown Los Angeles.  Past the Library Tower, the highest building west of the Mississippi River.  I could not.

I did not.

I put down my case.  I left a voice mail for my boss... "I can't do it, I can't drive in, I cannot."  I turned the TV back on.  I sat on the floor and just absorbed, and hurt.

I cried.

***

Thursday 9/13, as I drove down the 105 freeway on my route to the office a plane was wheeling from south to west, heading towards LAX.  It was the only plane in the sky.  It was the first plane I had seen since Monday.  It was, for a moment, terrifying.

Friday 9/14 I left the office and walked to the Episcopal Church near me in Pasadena.  I went to a service on my own accord for the first time in ages.  It was packed.  I cried.  We all cried.  It seemed incomprehensible.

Always remember.

***

And when today is over, and tomorrow begins... ask yourself: What is different?  What am I doing, what are you doing, what are we all doing to make sure this world is comprehensible and for those parts that cannot be, will not be, that we are united to defend our sane world from those barbarians at the gate?


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