My September 11 Story, and Ours, Part II

1024px-010915-N-3995K-024_Old_Glory_at_ground_zeroFor Scott Simon, and for Bill Craven

Continued from yesterday.

In the back of my closet, inside a cellophane folder where I keep the rarest papers I own, there is a plain piece of unremarkable 8 ½ by 11 printer paper. At the top of the paper is the inscrutable coding “TC2001091307CD22AM.”

Just to look at this piece of paper makes me shiver, a bit, in recollection. Here’s why:

The first days after September 11 were just as bewildering as the one that had come before, though the daily schedule picked up again almost instantly—this was, you see, the circumstance for which the phrase “the new normal” was actually created. [Read more…]

My September 11, and Ours: Part I

1024px-Aftermath_from_a_terrorist_attack_of_the_Pentagon,_September_11,_2001_010911-N-HT706-077For Scott Simon, and for Bill Craven

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of September 11, and for those of us who lived through it, it can be dizzying to realize that there are now high school students who weren’t born when it happened.

It has been one of the two signal public events of my adulthood. The other was the inauguration day of President Obama. The minutes and hours of each of those days were suffused with a sense of historical moment: on one, I was a thirtyish new bride; on the other, I was a massively pregnant forty-year old, hoisting a celebratory thimble of champagne with neighbors while the television and heating blasted.

In both cases, just about everything turned out differently from what we expected.

Fifteen years later, my sense is that in the rest of the country that is not New York or Washington, September 11 is so distant that it is merely a touchstone of rhetoric from political discourse: “If we don’t X, the terrorists will win!

But for those of us who lived there, the memory of the event courses on, like an underground river that can flood back up at any moment. [Read more…]

If This Isn’t an Emergency, Please Hang up and Dial 9/11

I was there. I should know better than to go about my days like this. This day of all days.

If this isn’t an emergency, please hang up and dial 9/11.

Chin forward, shoulders hunched, blowing by the given while chasing down the made. Snowed under at summer’s end by all that remains unattained and not yet accomplished.

If this isn’t an emergency, please hang up and dial 9/11.

I wasn’t there there, not at Ground Zero. But close enough, in the West Village. To see the gouged towers burn and spew before they fell. To wonder how those trapped would ever get down or out.

If this isn’t an emergency, please hang up and dial 9/11. [Read more…]