Monday, September 11, 2006

Post-

Downtown

Woke up a little before 9 am. Suitemate said a plane hit the Twin Towers. Turned on the TV. Mom called. Told me not to use this as an excuse not to go to class.

Just after nine AM. Me and my roommates see the second plane hit on tv. Mom calls back.

Don't go to class, she says.

We get dressed, go outside. The towers are smoking. Everyone on the street is staring the same direction. After a few minutes, we go into a deli, get some breakfast.

Go back into the dorm, watch the towers collapse on tv. Roommate's friend visiting from California discovers he won't be flying home for a while. We go back outside. Nothing but smoke. Everyone staring.

Around 10, the first people arrive, walking up from downtown. All covered in gray ash. Some staring straight ahead, some staring at the ground, none staring back. Everyone staring at them. A man in a suit, holding a briefcase, trying to get through on his cell phone-- his sweat making streaks in his ash covered skin. A woman collapses to her knees, a man, a stranger, rushes over and puts his arms around her.

An ambulance rushes past, coming from downtown, throwing off grey dust. People stand on the corner and applaud it. Then they look at each other awkwardly. The air smells like a blacksmith shop.

We go back inside, sit in front of the TV for hours, watching the coverage. Where the hell is the President? Giuliani says everything will be ok. Somehow, I feel a bit better. We drape an American flag bag over the side of our balcony. Finally, I go with my suitemate to the duane reade to buy some supplies for the rescue effort. The shelves are almost empty.

We walk past the barricades at 14th street, showing our NYU student IDs to the police officers. I've never heard the city so silent before. No alarms, no horns. Just people staring in silence at the thick smoke shrouding downtown.

They're having a vigil in Washington Square Park. People are holding candles. Me and my roommates decide not to go. Instead we drink a few beers and stare at the tv. My eyes hurt. It's late. I answer some IMs and return a few phone calls from people wondering if I'm alright.

A thin film of gray dust covers everything on our balcony. I try to wipe it away, but it sticks. I realize I'm breathing in remains.

I'm fine, I say. I learn my high school friend lost his sister.

I get a weird call on my cell phone which sounds like people screaming. It sounds like things collapsing. I wonder if it's someone's sick idea of a joke or if its just that the phones are somehow screwed up.

And I go to bed that night hoping it was all just a nightmare. That the next day I'll turn on my TV and there won't be any mention of anything.

But the next day it's all still there. And it still is.


[What if?]
[And what if?]

[and what if?]
[or what if?]
[and what if?]

PLUS:
9/11 From Space
"Tears don't flow the same in space."

and

Maybe it's just me, but perhaps this is not the best way to commemorate 9/11

1 comment:

Hot Mama said...

This is a powerful reflection on 9/11 and an excellent post.

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