Monday, May 2, 2011

9 Years 7 months, 2 weeks and 4 days Later

So this next post has almost nothing to do with having a child. But I still feel I need to get this off my chest.

I was there. In New York City the morning of September 11th. I was drinking orange juice and coffee studying for the LSATs. The morning the sky was calm, crisp. The cat was in the windowsill trying to catch birds outside.

It started with a phone call.

"Anna what did I just see out of my office window, turn the TV on." My friend Stuart exclaimed.
"What? Why?" I hadn't ever heard such hysteria in Stuart's voice before. And we once rode on a train together through Russia.
So I turned on the TV, it was in Spanish, I couldn't get reception on an English station so I had to feebly translate. It was surreal I didn't think I was translating right, how could a plane hit a building? On purpose? I was still translating and talking to Stuart  as the second plane started flying low. Stuart was FREAKING out on the phone, once I saw what he was seeing in person I had the same reaction:
"Get off the phone! Get out of your building!" I shrieked.

I was a strange mix of panic, disbelief and kicking into survival mode. Water, food, how does the first aid kit look? We need provisions was all I could think of. So I made my way to the bodega down the street buying gallons of water and more canned food than I could literally carry home on my own. I got home and turned the TV back on. By then the Pentagon had been hit and Flight 93 had gone down. I was alone except for my cat who sat in the window blissfully unaware of how the world was changing by the second. I have never felt so alone before in my life. What the fuck was happening? Would I have to go into work at 3pm?

I took a shower. It was hot, I think the hottest shower I have ever taken. I didn't know what to do. I had friends who worked in the towers, by the towers, in tall buildings, in Manhattan. The waiting was the worst part. Where was everyone? Was everyone safe? What the fuck is going on? Way back in 2001 not everyone had a cell phone, I tried calling those who had one. "all circuits busy" that phrase haunted me every-time I tried to make a call for days. I sat on the couch chanting I am okay, I am okay hoping my family on the West Coat could hear it somehow. I knew it was early there. Maybe they hadn't heard yet. I tried calling them so many times. "all circuits busy". I am okay I kept chanting holding the phone.

I felt impotent. I couldn't watch the TV anymore. By this time the towers had fallen and the mass exodus was happening out of Manhattan. There was no subway service. I had a car. I figured I could pick people up and take them home. So I drove down to the Queensboro Bridge and started asking who needed a ride home. It was chaos, but a stunned chaos. I drove three car loads of people home to Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island.  My last car load had two people covered in white soot. Each car ride we were silent, except for the occasional direction.

Finally I was running out of gas and they had started running the subways in the outer boros again, it was time to go home. I left notes on friend's doors in our neighborhood to come over and let me know they were okay when they got home. Shortly after I got home my roommates came home with our friend Chris. They just happened to run into one another on their way home at Queensboro Plaza. How does that happen in a sea of thousands? But it did.

No one had eaten all day. No one wanted my canned beets I bought either. We debated if calling the Chinese place down the street would be appropriate or if they would even be open on such a day. We reasoned yes. We ate take-out Chinese and watched TV into the wee hours of the morning.

And now the mastermind of my most terrible day has been killed. And I feel numb. I can't be happy for a life taken no matter how abhorrent a person he was, I just can't be happy. But don't get me wrong, I am definitely not sad that he is dead. I am numb. I can't feel anything. I want to feel something about this. Instead I just remember that day, over and over in my head. And I never want anyone to feel the way I did that day.

 In past 20 months since Walter's birth I've actually apologized to Walter for not "cleaning things up a little more" before he came into this world. So much hate. So much animosity. So much division. The events of last night remind me never forget. Never forget how silly our differences really are in the grand scheme of life. Never forget to lead by example. To teach tolerance, love and respect for everybody regardless of what they believe or they don't, regardless if they live near you or far away from you, for we are all connected in one way or another. I hope this death brings a new era of peace and understanding.

And one day, I believe understanding is possible. And I dare you to believe and behave the same way.


  1. big *hugs* to you, my dear. i concur.

  2. I agree with not cheering for a death. I am not a fundamentalist hate monger either Anna. On that topic, we aren't even close to being even either. Hopefully this is the beginning of our country reclaiming who we are. Not letting others draw us into war, not feeling so desperate as to try to justify torture.