Sunday, September 11, 2005

It's an annual truth blog tradition on September 11th to remember the day that everything changed. 2000 miles doesn't seem so far away in that small bedroom where the off-white paint peeled from the walls in the damp new england air. It was a new beginning. It was a chance to make life what I wanted it.

And it was 8 am. Just 30 miles down the road there had been bad men with fake smiles passing through metal detectors with no explosives and no guns and horrible ideas in their heads. They were ready to change the world and I spent my morning learning how, for millions of years the earth's plates had shifted. The tide had rolled in. It had carried the sand down the beach and left it somewhere new. For longer than I can comprehend things had changed slowly and the only single act that had really left so much as a scratch was a giant meteor from some far off galaxy.

By 10 I was asleep once again dreaming of knights and dinosaurs and transformers and mountains covered with fresh, white snow. When the phone woke me up it rang just as it had a dozen times before. And when I answered it I couldn't help but hide the sleepiness in my voice. My roommate's father. I asked how he was. And as he answered I could hear a hesitation in his voice. He was ok. On the outside at least. "Tell my son that I'm alright?" Ummm, OK, anything else?

That's when he told me. I think I smiled at the absurdity. A plane? An attack? I assured him that I would tell his son that he is fine. My shoes slid on just as they always did. Down the three flights of stairs to the living room where cable wasn't yet installed. How could I find out what happened? The girl on the first floor heard me approach? "I just heard something about a plane in New York." I told her what I knew and together we left to find a television. A decision I would later regret.

As the two of us walked into the cafe there was an errie silence. I saw the burning buildings. Gaping holes and plumes of smoke and I stared and I stared and I stared. Could it be real? Could it be true. I kept staring. Hoping it was a horrible trick. And then it happened. The first tower crumbled in on itself. I couldn't watch. I could breath. I couldn't stand up.

I walked out the door onto the bright green grass and I found a tree. No building was safe but the tree was solid and it was strong and it was close. I sat down against the trunk in a nook. I pulled my knees to my chest. I put my hands to my face because I wanted to hide but I couldn't hide. All I could do was weep. I wanted to be part of the tree, to curl up within it and feel its unmoving strength. I wanted to feel the warmth of the water and the nutrients, roots to leaves to roots to leaves. All I wanted was to be something other than human, or at least something other than American. Than a target.

It's four years later and my love affair with New York City is something completely special and amazing and heartfelt and sometimes I hate it and sometimes I love it but I will never ever ever forget it. We have a long road ahead of us america. It's going to be a tough trek wading through flooded streets across mountain tops and finally up the steps of the capitol building in D.C. I'm not leaving on this trip expecting most of you to make it. But it's time. Now's the time. You can fight it. You can tell yourself that everything's fine and everything will balance out. That it will all come back to equilibrium eventually. But you kidding yourself. The default setting is chaos. And when we let default run our lives that's exactly what we get.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mo said...

i was still in high school and my idiot teacher didnt think it was important enough to watch so instead we took notes on shakespeare.

later that day i wanted to be part of the tree too.

12:00 AM  
Blogger eric said...

very nice on this post and the one below. i admire the fact that you are still able to feel such an emotional connection after four years.

i, unfortunately, can't say the same. i constantly battle things becoming abstract in my mind. it's a weakness of not being willing to endure pain.

e+

1:12 PM  

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