11 September 2006

9/11

I went blog surfing for the first time today. Not sure what I was looking for. Not sure I found anything. But lots of people are writing about The Anniversary, so I thought I ought to contribute, if for no other reason than to record what I remember. (And let me forewarn you by saying that I found out I was pregnant two days after September 11, 2001, so everything about that day is colored for me by a hormonal haze. What does that mean? Well...)

The smell of bagels. I was at some meeting that morning, a meeting with breakfasty snacks, and the odor of fresh bagels about knocked me out.

Shaking. I was living in the Mountain time zone and hadn't listened to NPR on my way in to my office, so I had no idea what was happening until my boss called me. I turned the radio on and just sat there shaking so hard my teeth chattered and I couldn't seem to stop.

No planes in the sky. We lived out West where the sky is really, really big and you can see lots and lots of it all at once. The only planes we saw for days were fighter jets and after that - for days, weeks, months - I looked up, suspicious and with a weird pang of fear, when a passenger plane went overhead.

Churches. We went for a walk the Sunday afterwards. Every church parking lot we went past was full to overflowing. "A good place to be," The Husband said quietly, "If you're into that sort of thing." We kept walking. I think we may even have gone climbing. That was our 'church'.

Rental cars. My in-laws were visiting. They were scheduled to fly home September 12th. Instead, they kept their rental car and drove back East. The rental car company didn't charge them any extra for taking a Denver-based car across the Mississippi and not returning it.

Ashes. I stopped by my house with my boss on the way back from that bagel meeting. The Husband was watching TV. We saw people covered in ashes. White people, black people, Asian people? You couldn't tell.

Naming. Just hours into it, I wondered what we'd end up calling it, this collosal disaster. It had to be labelled somehow, because we're human and humans must name things. And it would end up being something neat, something quick, because "the planes that went down in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania" is too long a sound bite for the media. I remember for a few hours or days it was the World Trade Center bombings. Then people remembered that two other planes went down in other places and the only thing that could encompass it all was just the date.

Numbers. It's a bit macabre, or maybe a lot, but I remember the numbers kept going down. First it was 10,000 dead at the World Trade Center, then 8,000, then 6,000. I don't know why in those first few hours anyone even tried to estimate, but day after day it kept going down, which was sort of good, sort of weird and sort of horrible all at at the same time.

Sympathy. I'll never forget how the whole world, for once, was on our side. (I also will never forget how completely and utterly we've squandered that.)

Movies. This isn't really a memory, I suppose, but I knew they'd make movies about it. It was only a matter of time. I won't see them. It seems like it's in very bad taste to me. Besides. I lived through it. I don't want to experience it again. Ever.

The Future. I grew up during the Cold War. I grew up understanding that nuclear annihilation was just the push of a button away. My childern will grow up under a similar threat. Except they won't have the luxury of understanding anything like "nuclear deterent".

Guess that's mostly it.

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