Being in N.Y. on this date feels right to me. That day I was in Hawaii
and I was just so far away. So far away. Due to the six hour time difference, I
was sleeping when it actually happened. My boss at the time called me at home
and woke me up. I was asleep and he said something like “we are being attacked.
They are bombing us.” I was so confused. He told me to turn on the TV.
Something I didn’t have. I turned on the radio. For some reason I feel like it
was only Scott Simon on NPR that day but I am sure that was not the case. I
remember the music in between the talking. I remember that I couldn’t make
sense of what they were saying. Early on they said that there would be a need
for blood for all of the injured people. I think they only said that initially
before there was a realization that there were no injured people. I sat in my
apartment by myself and listened and listened to NPR for what seemed like
forever. The towers had already collapsed by the time I had tuned in. The
entire thing was incomprehensible. The twin towers? A place I had been. Up to
the top as a teenager. Back when we visited Times Square to see the hookers and
try to get someone to sell us beer. When the braver boys would go into the peep
shows and then rejoin the group with tales to tell.
I don’t remember if I actually got through to my Mom that day. She is
very, very far from NYC but my friend Joe sometimes goes in and so does my
friend Chrissie’s sister. Somehow at some point I knew that everyone was OK.
There was no work that day and sitting alone was making me crazy. I decided to
go to the blood bank, despite the fact that I am a fainter and I was once told that
when it came to blood donation, I am more trouble than I am worth. When I got
to the blood bank, there was actually someone in the parking lot directing traffic.
It was a mad house. It was packed. Seriously packed. It looked like a lot of
military folk to me. Maybe it is something they just do when there is a
disaster. I don’t know. I just knew that I had to do something that day and it
was the only thing that I could think about doing. Maybe that’s what other
people thought too. That they just had to do something (on a side note, I think
that George Bush blew it at the time. People were so ready to do something. It
was the most perfect, best time ever, to ask Americans to volunteer, to use all
of those feelings they were feeling to step up and lend a hand. Become a
mentor. Build a house. Something. Anything.)The blood bank had a TV. It was the
first time I actually saw the footage. It was completely horrifying. Unreal. I
just sat in the blood bank and cried. I was put on a list to donate but I
confessed that I was a fainter. They thanked me for coming down but asked that
I return on a day when they were not so busy and they could tend to me
personally. While I was sitting there amidst the blood bank pandemonium, I saw my
friends Spike & Jill. At least I remember seeing Spike and Jill; part of me
thinks that I imagined seeing them there.
It has been hard this week. Listening to the stories. From families,
firefighters who were on the scene. At one point this week my mom asked that I
turn off NPR, she couldn’t listen any more. I couldn’t turn it off. It was raw.
Talking about the first documented death, a chaplain to the NY Fire Department.
It scrapes at you but I couldn’t turn it off. After ten years, it all still
feels the same to me. I remember that for months and months after it was
difficult for me to work. I considered moving back to NY. I randomly hugged a
woman from NY after a work-related meeting. I got mad at people wearing American
flag pins because I felt like, that is all you can do? Wear a pin? What have
you really done? What are you going to do? I am lucky I didn’t get fired.
I would like to go and visit the site to see the memorial before I
leave NY. Maybe it offers some sense of peace. The last time I was there it was
a giant hole in the ground. Scarred earth for a scarred population. Ten years
later and I feel the same. I don’t think that lovely monuments and fountains
will change that for me but maybe it isn’t supposed to change that. Maybe it is meant to just offer a place to go and feel. To feel and be. To remember and reflect. Things I can do.