9/12

I was meeting with a fellow landscape-volunteer for the elementary school when her husband called. “Turn on the TV. Turn on the TV.” The friend said, “it’s Osama bin Laden”. Believe it or not, that was the first time I’d heard that name (an unthinkable state of ignorance now, with FB, twitter, etc.). We watched the towers go down in real time.K was sent home from work, the office closed. There was the fear of more planes, more death.

Because the boys were young (7 and 5), we didn’t watch the endless replays. We had a camping trip planned for the weekend and were glad to have a reason to interrupt routines, but actually drove down into North Adams at one point to buy a newspaper. A couple of times while the kids bombed around on their bicycles, K and I turned on the van engine and listened to the radio in a state of shock. I remember feeling a sense of kinship with our grandparent’s generation, listening for news about the war, huddled around a radio.

I remember how startlingly blue the sky was on 9/11. A perfect fall day. I remember reading an email from the school saying, “we have not told them.” I remember calling a friend over before I walked over to pick up the boys, embracing her and crying, “what kind of world are they growing up in?”

On Facebook yesterday (it’s 9/12 now), I watched a video clip of tolling church bells on the campus of UMass/Amherst. Not only was it a haunting sound, but the comments rolling underneath gave me chills, especially the ones saying things like, “my son was in kindergarten that day and now he’s a junior at UMass”. And then there were comments simply saying what they were doing that day. Where they were or who they lost. We will all remember.

It took days to find out if my brother was okay. He had been scheduled to fly from somewhere in Europe into D.C. to give a lecture. All the other doctors (sensibly) cancelled, but he was adamant about showing up. He first flew to somewhere in the Caribbean and next to Canada where he rented a car.

My brother, like my son, went to McGill and had crossed that border many, many times without incident. But this was post 9/11. Because he was coming from Europe, he had multiple currencies on his person — suspect. It was a one-way car rental — suspect. And then there was the Irish surname — also suspect given the long and troubled history with bombs (my sister maintains we’re related to Timothy McVeigh, but never mind that).

The police at the U.S./Canadian border thoroughly took apart the car. I don’t mean pulled him over to inspect the trunk and open a few suitcases — I mean, unbolting door panels, ripping up floor mats, lifting seat cushions.

I may have gotten some of those details wrong, but you get the gist.

What I don’t remember — is what we said to our sons, our young and impressionable and fairly innocent sons. What did I say?

 

P.S. That’s a SoulCollage card referring directly to the attacks of 9/11 and also referring indirectly to my maternal grandfather (using magazine images), who came to NYC in 1923, spent decades working in the bowels of ships while raising a family in Park Slope, Brooklyn, before moving up to Newburgh, NY.

P.P.S. The creepiest local connection was that the Boston hijackers spent their final night on this earth in a hotel less than a mile down the road. The place has since been razed and an apartment building sits there now.

P.P.S. A good friend of mine move to Battery Park sometime later and when we visited her, we went to Ground Zero. It was awful. One of the worst things? Looking at the dust on nearby building knowing that it had DNA in it.

5 thoughts on “9/12

  1. Michelle in NYC

    I was here in NYC. I woke to the news and watched the second plane hit and the towers collapse on TV and the people streaming up from downtown walking home covered in dust. Helped some friends and wondered ‘what now?’ It felt like everything stood still for a week below 42nd Street…stores were closed. Lights went out in the streets. Buses and trains were stopped. I will never forget the image of people flying away holding hands. It was a nightmare that felt like dreaming. I wouldn’t go near the site from then on and still have not visited. They charge you know. They’re making it pay. There’s more but that’s all for now…I’m dealing with a loss sustained this 9.ll when I left my bag on Amtrak returning from Massachusetts (sigh)

    Reply
  2. deemallon Post author

    Oh so sorry about your bag — I hope you get it back soon.

    And so sorry too that as a new yorker you feel this date in a very particular and harsh way. Here in Boston there were a lot of connections, too, but none that were directly personal to me. Two out of three of my step-brothers-law worked in the city in finance and were devastated. One of them saw the towers go down from the street and for weeks afterwards went to many funerals a week. The other was refurbishing an apt in Tribeca and had to put their move date back for months (kind of the least of it, but still…. )

    I was meeting with a fellow landscape-volunteer for the elementary school when her husband called. “Turn on the TV. Turn on the TV.” The friend said, “it’s Osama bin Laden”. Believe it or not, that was the first time I’d heard that name (remember, this was pre-cell phone, pre-twitter, etc.). We watched the towers go down in real time. Because we the boys were young (7 and 5), I didn’t watch the endless replays. We had a camping trip planned for the weekend and were glad to have a reason to interrupt routines, but actually drove down into North Adams at one point to buy a newspaper. A couple of times while the kids bombed around on their bicycles, K and I turned on the van engine and listened to the radio in a state of shock.

    I remember how startlingly blue the sky was on 9/11. A perfect fall day. I remember reading an email from the school saying, “we have not told them.” I remember calling a friend over before I walked over to pick up the boys, embracing her and crying, “what kind of world are they growing up in?”

    The creepiest local connection was that the Boston hijackers spent their final night on this earth in a hotel less than a mile down the road. The place has since been razed and an apartment building sits there now.

    Reply
  3. Mo Crow

    my cousin Joy is a nurse, she was working in z hospital near the bomb site and watched the buildings collapse, they braced themselves for the influx of injured but sadly not many survived. I loved that France played “Imagine” in memorium and that a nomadic tribe in Africa sacrificed a goat for the people who lost their lives and buildings.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      I hadn’t heard about those tributes… thank you. And yeah, one of the worst parts of the immediate aftermath was how few survivors there were.

      Reply

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