My 9/11/06


The tired cliche is that "Life Goes On", and like a lot of cliches - it's sadly true. But while some of life washes over you and leaves no imprint, some of it leaves a permanent mark. Here's a little something about being washed clean, and the marks left behind .....

Yesterday morning my mother informed me that she thought she'd cracked a filling. So, up we went to the Emergency Dental Clinic at the WVU Dental School (the only place around here to get a tooth fixed without an appointment). In the end, it wasn't cracked, and all she's going to need (at any convenient time) is to have a couple bumpy places ground down a bit (long story).

While sitting in the waiting room, I got a chance to write a poem for One Deep Breath, and attempt to write one (that I don't like very much and may not use) for Poetry Thursday. And I had a chance to get in a bit of reading. But, while sitting in the hallway I was passed by at least a dozen people who were in possession of a rather tubercular cough that they felt comfortable sharing with me (ah, how kind!).

Last night, after dinner, I was beginning to feel a bit phlemmy and scratchy-throated (love those technical terms), so I downed two multi-vitamins and 3 grams worth of vitamin C. Feeling the occasional tickle in the throat this morning, I did the same. And so far, I think it's working. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Last night, after being inundated with copious and truly awful 9/11 "tributes" (BTW, don't even get me started on the fact that ABC can cover their lying butts simply by stating their well-timed miniseries "isn't a documentary" - UGH!), including the occasional replaying of footage from the day (because we haven't seen the actual impact, or total collapse, enough yet), I stumbled across the only tv mention of the anniversary that I can call heartfelt and beautiful. And I found it in the strangest of places.

As you know, I likes me the Craig Ferguson. After all, everybody likes to be called a cheeky little monkey, no? So I flipped on the show last night (hoping he was back from vacation), and found him doing something unexpected - talking from the heart. If you ever saw him talk about his father's passing, you'll be able to visualize last night's show (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go HERE). He talked to Aaron Brown (as Cronkite is to Kennedy assassination, Brown is to 9/11/01) and Ralph Geidel (a truly amazing human being). And I wanted to cry for the better part of the show, but in a good way, a real way, a human way. Without footage of explosions and implosions, and without the slightest trace of journalist's cliches, you felt reconnected to the best and worst in any and every human soul.

When Sept. 11th happened I was here in WV. I'd been doing a ton of traveling that summer, and was just back home for a couple weeks before going back to Ireland. I was still asleep (ah, the life of the unemployed 20-something gypsy, crashing with her parents between jaunts) when my dad knocked on my bedroom door and said "A plane just hit the World Trade Center, you might want to come see this." Despite having a tv in my room, I got up and went downstairs. I guess there's an instinct to be communal when strangeness is afoot.

We had satellite at the time (and because we couldn't get our local networks on it, they offered us a sweet deal on getting CBS, ABC, and NBC from any number of cities we wanted). We got a couple channels from back home in Cali, and one or two from New York. So, on that day, we flipped back and forth between the New York channels, CNN, MSNBC, etc. Like a lot of people, I missed seeing the first plane hit in real time (though CNN did replay it enough to bring me up to speed), but also like a lot of people, I saw the second one plunge into the other tower LIVE. I think I made a noise when it happened - something between a gasp and a moan - because it was then that the brain started ticking, two and two were put together, and I realized ... two planes, do not hit two towers by accident.

I remember being stunned, surprised, maybe even a little shocked. But I don't remember feeling anything else for the first day or two. I've been trained by my life to try to never visibly flinch, no matter how you feel inside. When bad things happen you attempt to shrug them off, at least externally. But in the days and weeks after the attack what got to me most, and what will stay with me forever, I think, is the sound of the word please.

We don't say please very much in daily life - and when we do, we hardly mean it - but the people on CNN and the New York channels holding up photos of their missing loved ones, the people who papered the city in flyers, they meant it. They meant it like no person should ever be forced to mean it, they meant it as though their own lives depended on it - they were literally begging anyone watching, and God himself, for any news at all - even bad news.

That is what sticks in my mind, even five years later - the sound of frightened, hopeful, human beings pleading with strangers for information - even if the information hurts.

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