Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Ago Today

I woke up at about 5:30am to the sound of the phone ringing, wondering who the fuck would dare call me at such an hour. The machine picked up, but no message was left. Oh well, I had to get up anyway... I was training for a half-marathon and my schedule demanded 5 miles out of me that day. I dressed quietly ... normally I'd have watched a bit of the news while I had coffee before setting out, but my boyfriend had been partying into the wee small hours with a visiting friend so I slipped out of the house in silence, untouched by the horror that was unfolding.

When I returned, the phone was ringing again. It was my mom, her voice sounding choked, asking me if I was okay. "Umm, okay? Yeah, I just ran 5 miles... I'm sweating like a pig but I haven't had a heart attack yet hahaha..." Ma interrupted, saying "You don't have the TV on, do you." Then she broke down sobbing. "They just crashed 5 planes into the world trade center and the White House, and some other ones got shot down in Pennsylvania and Alaska, and your brother's in Rochester..." Of course a lot of this wasn't true, and my brother was in no danger in Rochester. But that's how information was coming out at that point, all fucked up. And NYC to Pennsylvania to Washington to Alaska kind of sounded like "everywhere". Planes were falling out of the sky everywhere.

It was the first time since I was a kid that I can remember feeling such pure terror. It was a child's terror, an animal's terror, the kind that stabs like an icepick, then grips the heart like a fist. Like a lot of people, when I'm scared I swear incoherently. The boyfriend (a staunch hypocritical Catholic) came to life to scream at me from the bedroom to "stop using the lord's name in vain". His friend was up and around at this point, glanced at the TV, and asked me if I was watching that new Bruce Willis movie. I said "Jesus fucking christ, I fucking wish." More braying from the bedroom.

In the following days and months, everyone was an American. We all donated money, gave blood, and bought FDNY caps to support the families of fallen firefighters. But as months and years went by and 9/11 became an excuse for the Bush administration's aggression and hubris, the world's solidarity has turned to disgust. What a waste: for awhile there, the world really could have fought a "war on terror" and won.