Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11, Ten Years Later

When I was little, my parent's friends' big social/political question was, 'what were you doing when JFK was shot?' I got a bit older and it became, 'Did you know anyone who was there for the Kent State shootings?' Today the big topic is, 'What were you doing when the towers fell?' 

. I was at home in Medina, Ohio getting ready for work when they were hit. I would turn The Today Show on at 8 a.m. as I ran around the condo, showering, grabbing sips of coffee and getting ready to drive up to Brunswick and my job as the bar manager at Johnny's, a nice family-style restaurant that catered to the more careerist residents of the town, as opposed to the farmer hilljack assholes that seemed to produce 75% of the offspring up there. Your average people populated the place, cops, teachers, computer programmers and alkie real estate agents. The cream of the Brunswick crop.

As soon as I saw the footage of the first plane hit the North tower, I called my brother who is an architect. He said that the structure would survive as long as none of the support beams were hit, clearly harking back to the first bombing attack which happened in the 90s when I was still living in New York. That was when terrorists placed a bomb in the parking garage but miscalculated on where to put it. Thank God for stupid terrorists! Too bad they weren't as bad the second time around.

Then the second tower was hit as I watched live on TV. I called my Dad. First words out of his mouth were, 'terrorists.' I was aghast. Terrorists weren't on my radar then. It had been almost a decade since the first attack, clearly we had learned something from that. Why would anyone do this? We Americans were happy then. We were flush. Life was good. War was the last thing on anyone's mind. This was the beginning of the end of that blind happiness. This was the beginning of a lot of scary shit. Things I thought I would never see, because we all move forward and do better than our ancestors, right? Did I really believe this? That younger generations improve upon the past? Such is the short sighted stupidity of the young.   

Odd off-topic fact. My father died on 9/11 three years later. That was a weird day too. Story for another time.

At work, I was readying the restaurant for the 11 a.m. opening, rushing around, cell phone attached to my ear, trying to contact my friends in New York. Zero luck, total freak out. In my mind, there was a reason I couldn't reach them, and it was a bad one. I didn't know that everyone across the country was having problems, not until I got home at 6.

Later, after I found out that my friends were safe, I found out that one went through a particularly harrowing experience at Ground Zero. He was working in a building right off The World Trade Center's plaza. He and his co-workers were told not to evacuate, it was too dangerous with all the debris, fuselage and human. After dealing with the agonizing sight and sound of those that jumped to their deaths, he and his co-workers got the hell out of there. The towers fell shortly thereafter. He arrived home covered in dust. I cannot even imagine the nightmares he must have. It makes me tear up to this day.

I can't claim much trauma beyond what any American felt that day. Sure, I lived in New York for almost a decade. Sure, I would meet my brother for lunch by the bronze globe in the World Trade Plaza when he worked a few blocks away and we would glance up and talk about how cool it was that we lived in such an amazing place. 

Sure, I was freaked out when I woke up Wednesday, September 12th, and walked out to get the paper in the cool dawn, stepping on the concrete driveway in the slowly warming quiet. I looked up and there were no planes in that clear, sill dark star freckled sky. It was eerie, it was like a bad horror movie from the 50s. It wasn't entirely real, even as it was all TOO real, and it was bad for all of us, whether we had been to New York or not. I can't even imagine how bad it was for those that lost someone in those towers, in The Pentagon, or in that field in Pennsylvania. My heart goes out to them. My heart also bleeds for those that in the military that died in the wars that followed, not out of some bandwagon jumping SUPPORT OUR TROOPS bullshit, but because it is all so completely and utterly STUPID, and religion and jingoism and the military-industrial greed machine are at the heart of it. It needs to end, and I wish we were a little more advanced so that we could see it, at least in my lifetime. 

No comments: