Saturday, September 11, 2004

Not sure I want to do this, but...

My bedroom window, circa 1998:

Three years ago today, I hadn't lived in New York for three and a half years, hadn't been there for two and a half. I was working as a legal advocate for battered women in Northern Minnesota, and had court that day. The story of what had happened was passed on to me via word of mouth from those who had seen bits before work that morning (I did not watch TV, so I had not heard). In my mind, I pictured the tail of a plane dangling precariously from the building. Throughout the morning we heard updates: the other tower was hit; the pentagon; there was one more headed for Camp David, or the capital, or... but it was down.

My co-workers and I returned to the office and turned on the TV, where we first saw the one piece of news that hadn't been reported to us all day: a replay of the fall of the towers. This was my moment of collapse. I couldn't stand, or understand, or do much more than incoherently deny what I had just seen.

After that, the next three days are a blur. I sent out emails to old school friends, to make sure everyone was OK. I spent time at friends' apartments because being alone meant I had to try to comprehend what had happened. When I was alone, the TV was always on; I couldn't sleep without it, for fear something else would happen. A friend finally told me he didn't understand why I cared so much; I can't remember if I actually snapped at him, or if I just remember thinking "what if you saw the Minneapolis skyline disappear, and knew that even if everyone you know was OK, one of them knew someone who was dead?" I stopped trying not to be alone, and I turned off the TV. There was no way to understand, and no one understood that.


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