Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years, Just Like Yesterday

I'm sure everyone has a story of where they were and what they were doing as the news unfolded five years ago.

I know exactly where I was, at home in bed. It was my day off, and the only thing I really needed to do was a 4 hour guide shift on EverQuest. It was sometime around 1000 when the phone rang and woke me up. It was my mother, calling from work. This first thing she asked was if my father had left for work yet. There was urgency in her voice. He had already left, and mom told me to turn on the news, she said something about planes crashing and they think it was deliberate and then we lost the cell signal. I obeyed, and saw the source of her urgency. A plume of black smoke rising from the Pentagon. My dad drives by that building on his way to work, and he would have been passing it around the time the guided plane-shaped missile hit. I could not reach dad via his cell phone, so I started my shift and would try again later.

Through the morning, I was watching the news, and trying to focus on my job. Everyone called me that day, I guess everyone knew I would be home; out of state family, friends who were at work, everyone except dad. I even heard from my brother who was on business in Seattle (the one person I didn't expect to hear from, actually, but I really wanted to because I wasn't sure if his return flight was 9/11 or 9/12), and a friend who worked at the State Department telling me they were sending everyone home. The people who were not focused on EverQuest were in the chat room discussing the news.

I watched it all on the news that day, cameras pointing at the Towers as they fell, the shocked disbelief in the voices of the people reporting it, and my heart broke. They said they had grounded all flights, and they had. The sound of planes are pretty common in my area, there are three major airports nearby, and Andrew's Air Force Base is just over the hill. The air was still and eerie, even the birds were not singing.

I got in touch with my dad sometime in the afternoon, oblivious to the fact that people might be worried about him. He was safely at work. My mom came home early, and we decided we had both seen and heard enough of news. Dad turned it back on when he got home, and mom and I spent the evening with tea and Independence Day on the VCR. My poor brother was stuck in Seattle for a week, he had to stay with his client because the hotel needed his room.

I worked at the Maryland Renaissance Festival that weekend. For all the people who called the office and complained that we were even open, there were as many calling to thank us for it. We were ordered to remove anything that would be considered even remotely American patriotic. If you sold costumes, your sales were high. People needed the escape, they needed to get away and to immerse in some place and time that wasn't the Washington DC suburbs in September 2001. It was the same thing at the movie theater where I was working. And EverQuest saw a spike in players online. Maybe it's human nature to deal with something unbelievable by not being there.

I didn't know any of the thousands of people who lost their lives that day in New York, Pennsylvania, and DC. But, in truth, I knew every last one of them. They were neighbors and friends, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, cousins. We passed on the street, and greeted each other like strangers in a drug store. The energy of the world cried that day. It cried like the skies over DC are crying now. We all lost a part of us that day.

I listened to the news on my way to work this morning, as I do every morning as a commute necessity. The top story was the memory of people. Everyone talking about where they were an what they were doing that blue-skyed day when we all lost such a large part of our human family. I cried with the sky on my way in. There is nothing better I can do with this day than to go through it as I normally would. People fought and died, and are fighting still, for my ability to do so.

I have no poetic words of comfort for those who are still wondering why. I have nothing great or remarkable to say about the events going on in the memory of so many voices senselessly silenced. Only the sound of my heart breaking, if a heart can break twice, because I have chosen to not shut out the sadness of memory that is permeating this day. Sometimes, there are things you have to feel. Sometimes you have to let it in, lest you lose touch with what really matters. What really matters to you? I know my answer.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Your points are well stated on this sad but important day & ones I agree with.