9/11/15

Remembering 9/11 . . .

This will sound odd but I don't really "remember" 9/11. I lived and worked in DC at the time, you'd think I might.

I remember parts of it - hearing about the first jet hitting via the Howard Stern Show. How freaked out my colleagues were. How long it took to realize this was not an accident. Being escorted from our office building. Waiting at a nearby bakery for the Metro to die down because there were too many people and too little trains, tracks, platforms, and calm underground. The walk from the Metro home. The sheer lack of food and beverage in our apartment. Going to bed that night very early.

I never, once, turned on the TV on 9/11. My colleagues did (we listened to Stern and WAMU/Morning Edition, too). I never saw the footage that played 9,111,911 times that day on every channel. It took me days to hear the name Osama bin Laden. I felt not need to embrace the images, sounds, and sensations of what happened that morning in New York City, a field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon across the river from me.

I remember my roommate being really freaked out (I later learned he was engaged with a kid on the way - another story, another time). I remember being really disinterested. NOT in an apathetic way but in a way that felt more like "this didn't happen - at least not to me."

I reached out (or tried, at least) to a few friends who lived and worked in and around NYC that day. That made me feel a little closer to it (only enough to confirm I was not too close). I went to bed early. I never turned on the radio or TV. My boss called at one point and wanted to chat about it. I blew him off.

It was too much for my little, tiny, rubber band-powered brain. I remember being horrified at the sheer volume of people who didn't get that comfort. The people who could not and would not find friends and family. The thousands and thousands who have, truly, never gotten their calm and comfort back. It is too much for my brain to ponder.

About a week later (head still firmly planted in the sand on the real scope of the horror)  I was thumbing through a special issue of Time magazine (oh, yeah, I subscribed to Time magazine in 2001 - your dentist did too, don't judge). I should not have done that.  It was a "special issue" dedicated to the images of that day. The first few were rough. Then BOOM - I remember it so clearly - I picture that spanned two pages and it was just the image of a person dropping by the cold, steely exterior of one of the towering twins that fell that morning. If you rotated the magazine 180 degrees he looked like Superman rising up from the street to fight evil. Alas . . . he, and many others (I learned in that moment) opted to decide their fate vs. let fate decide for them and he had jumped from the compromised building.

I put the magazine down. I felt stupid. I felt truly guilty for never thinking about that part of the day. All the other loss and pain and suffering. The moments and hours and days that followed and the decisions that were made or the making that was decided. The people who lost their sense of security and comfort. The people who choked or fell to death.

I was naive.

9/11 continues to be just sorta "out there" in my brain. If I'm being honest I really, really loved 9/12 through about 12/26 of that year when everyone was just a little more warm, fuzzy, kind, and happy to be alive - maybe that was just in DC. I chose to hold that more closely. I have only embraced the occult (conspiracy theories) of it. Some of the fictionalized stuff, etc., too. I think my brain wants all that to be right so none of the real stuff happened - at least not as we know it did. As the things we remember. What we can not forget. Too much pain and suffering. Too much destruction.

Too much naivety lost.

Please take a moment today. Be happy that you're alive. Be glad (if you're like the lion share of Americans) that this happened around and near you vs. to you. Be friendly. Be observant. The world needs us to honor what happened in our skies, on our soil, and in our hearts. We owe it to all those lost and still grieving.

At the same time - if you are far enough from it - be naive. The world needs that, too.