9/11: A Bag of Tomatoes and an Empty Sky

Today is as it was. The day is so perfectly vivid in my mind, that I just don’t need to write it again. The phone call; the horror; the waiting to hear from my husband; the abandoned bag of tomatoes; the empty, empty sky:

I remember thinking, after a few hours, that New York might be shut down for a while, and that it would be a good time to buy some provisions, the old standbys, milk, eggs, bread, water – and few other things, too. Propane. Duct tape. Tinned meat. I wandered through the nearly empty store, which was running a live news broadcast, and those of us shopping looked at each other as though we were ghosts, like we could see right through one another. “I wonder when the next shoe is going to drop,” one woman said to me as she filled a plastic bag with tomatoes and then, distracted and in shock, simply left it behind as she moved on to the bread aisle.

Checking out in stunned silence, loading my groceries into the car, I looked up to see the empty, silent sky. No planes, no fluffy contrails. Just space – that startling, serene blue.

I will be honest, I don’t want to keep thinking about 9/11. I just don’t. I can’t imagine there is anything left to be said or felt, any new wisdom to be received, except perhaps for the always-ripe understanding that when horror strikes, we live with the regret of things gone unsaid, or other things spoken too roughly, and that finally, we should choose our words carefully, because for someone, they might be our last.

As Will Duquette points out, even online.

Grant Gallicho: how it felt

Bush’s best speech

Glenn Reynolds rounds up the day

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About Elizabeth Scalia