Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - five years ago

Five years ago I was in the depths of one of my depressions, living with my parents and unemployed. My mother was getting ready for work and was watching something on "Fox & Friends". I was still in bed, half-asleep, as depressed people tend to be. All of sudden Mother hollered at me and said, "Meg! Get in here! Now!" in her (rarely-used) brook-no-argument tone. I struggled out of bed and . . . stayed glued to the television for the next few days, at least. When I came in the room there were the helicopters circling the WTC and the North Tower smoking . . . the anchorguy was saying something about a plane flying into the building! This was shortly after that kid flew a Cessna into that building in Florida, so Mother and I thought it was along those lines, but, no, we were quickly informed otherwise . . . it was a passenger jet! The reporters seemed as disbelieving as we were. Finally Mother had to leave for work; I promised to call her if anything else happened. (Ha!)

No sooner had she left than the second plane flew into the South Tower . . . that was a shock . . . and at that point, I started thinking, "Islamist nuts". Because the odds of one passenger airplane flying into the freakin' World Trade Center were pretty darn small, but the odds of two doing so within 45 minutes of each other were, well, infinitesimal. At that point, I couldn't call Mother, the switchboard where she worked wasn't open for another hour. (She called me not too long after - everyone at work was gathered around an old B&W TV someone had in their office.) I called a friend who lived and worked in Manhattan - he worked way up in Murray Hill, so I wasn't "worried" about him, but even so, I wanted to check in with him, and it turned out to be the last time I'd be able to talk to him for over a week. Everyone in his office was gathered around a TV, and of course they could see downtown to what was going on. He held the phone out the window so I could hear the noise of sirens on vehicles headed downtown . . . I told him I was a little concerned that one or both of the Towers could fall, I didn't know if with their engineering the metal might buckle if the fires went down further, and cause one or both to fall over on their sides (ha! - I couldn't imagine them falling as they did - but later I read a couple of books on the engineering of the Towers and realized why what happened, happened - you conspiracy people should look into those). But we both agreed that that was crazy talk. I told him I'd call him later - "I know you live uptown [he lived north of Columbia, for pete's sake], but I'll just have to make sure you're okay." He laughed and said fine. Of course, I was unable to call him that evening, or for days after, and that evening he walked from the east 30's to the 180's.

Of course, with that prediction, I was not surprised when the Towers came down . . . just kind of . . . shocked. I can see them both happening - first the top began to shiver, then the whole tower just collapsed, bam bam bam bam bam. Of course the TV showed it over and over, usually in slowed motion of some sort so you could see what was happening. But I remember clearly watching both towers go down, especially because they both seemed to have a rhythym - wooooooooobbble, then slam slam slam slam slam.

By that time, I had been praying my rosary for a while. It was obvious to anyone with sense what was going on. People were already dead and dying, fire crews were going up into God-knew-what, it was obviously going to be a huge mess to get those fires put out and then . . . it got worse.

After the Towers fell, I just sat on the sofa and watched . . . well, everything. The Pentagon. The reports from Pennsylvania. The fingerpointing. ("Oh, great," I thought. "Well, at least Al Gore isn't president," I thought.) The coming together and the bickering. I went to church that night, and the night after. Perhaps it brought me out of my depression, I never thought of it that way before . . .

The other thing I really remember was the "irony" of what a wonderful day it was. I remember thinking, as the helicopters circled around, how nice and clear the sky looked there; you don't get that nice clear blue in New York as often as you do in Texas. Then some of the news people commented on what a lovely morning it had been, and, when I spoke to my friend, I asked him how it was up there, and he said it had been the most beautiful late-summer morning. And out of that beautiful sky fell Death.

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