Other friends phoned throughout the day. Paul Rugg speculated about the pilots of the doomed aircraft, certain they weren't Americans forced to crash. TJ, a Vietnam vet, was incensed at the footage of jubilant Palestinians with their candy and AK-47s. He wished he could gift them with a nice buttering of napalm. In a grim mood, I agreed.
Watching TV and power-chewing Nicorette, I mostly felt numb — except when the subject was jumpers. Then I felt horror. Go to work, sip coffee, joke with your pals, then decide whether you'll suffocate, burn alive, or leap a quarter mile to certain death. Questions of etiquette arise: jump solo or hold hands with a co-worker? Perhaps several of you link arms and form a chain, finding courage in numbers. Or do you clutch a table cloth and step into the air, desperately hoping it slows your fall?
The journey takes ten seconds.
Air velocity rips away your shoes.
You explode on impact.
I will always be haunted by the jumpers of 9/11.
Oceans of paper were blasted from the towers, filling the New York sky like the Devil's ticker tape. Invoices and wedding invitations floated down to gray sidewalks.
My friend Cathy, who worked in D.C., reported chaos as the government sent everyone home at once following the Pentagon attack. One jammed intersection turned scary as a man leaped out of an SUV brandishing a pistol and attempting to direct traffic.
Being murdered is not a heroic act, though it can be. Flight 93 passengers fought back and died, saving many more in their sacrifice. North Tower Port Authority employees rescued over 70 people before perishing.
There were many heroes that day.
My sister Mary Pat and I had dinner at a coffee shop. She was passing through town, leaving a job in Mountain View, CA to return to Phoenix. Depressed by the day's events, our meal was not jolly.
Later, Joy tried to give blood, but the hospital was overwhelmed with donations and refused.
Vulnerability, grief, dismay, anger.
Such a beautiful morning with a sky so blue.
(Photos from: Little Green Footballs.)
Repost: Sept. 11, 2008
Update: Strange to reread this. TJ died in 2009 and K passed away just over a year ago. My wife, Joy, and I are doing well, as is Paul Rugg who now rides the train.
Repost: Sept. 11, 2013
Update: I had cancer surgery last year, but recovered. My wife is doing well and my sister battles her own health woes. I have not heard from my friend Cathy in a few years. Paul Rugg continues riding the train in addition to being a voice over machine.
Repost: Sept. 11, 2015
Update: Paul Rugg's daughter was not quite two years old on 9/11/01. Now she is a freshmen in college. I have retired from TV animation writing, though, as stated elsewhere, I find retirement to be indistinguishable from unemployment. (Save for a small annuity.) And very soon, I shall ride the train to see my sister. (Explanatory post t/k.)
Repost: Sept. 11, 2017
Update: Ten years have passed since I composed this post, 17 years since the incident. Alas, the greatest hit to our nation continues to be a colossal security apparatus that can't seem to function without monitoring everyone's communications, then lying about it. I'd rather not comment on airport theater. Still, my wife remains gainfully employed and I'm racing to complete a dystopian thriller by Christmas. Amidst the great events, the little things carry us forward.
Repost: Sept. 11, 2018