#WhereWereYou

On Twitter, a friend posted with that hashtag.  The idea, of course, is “Where were you when you heard on 9/11?”

I can’t believe it’s been nine years since that day. 

Many years ago, I used to drink.  A lot.  Nightly.  When I was under the influence of liquid thesaurus, I wrote.  A lot.  Nightly.

September 11, 2001 was right in the middle of my downward spiral.  I remember feeling scared and helpless and sad and angry, and I remember writing this heart-rending piece about the tragedies, and that it was awesome.

After the PowerBook died a few months ago, my dad gave me an old desktop of his.  It’s fine for writing Word documents and keeping my budget up to date (not that I’ve actually done either of those things), and the other night I found a file of things I wrote during that period.  Among them was my piece dated 9/12/01. 

It wasn’t that good, frankly.  The feeling was there by the bucketful, but the writing…

It’s like the 9/11 Tragedy itself.  The events and images of that day were horrific:  The evilly brilliant audacity of the plan.  The multiple camera angles of the impacts and explosions.  Seeing those poor souls jumping from waaaaaay up high.  Those mighty towers crumbling down.  The dust clouds.  The sad pictures of the New York skyline, with two big gaps like missing front teeth.

What got me, although it took a few days to realize it, was the complete lack of air traffic.  I live on a flight path for Tampa International Airport, and it was quiet until they reopened the skies: no planes passing over, no glowing lights lined up on approach.  I felt sad seeing our flag at half staff, too. 

At the time, I felt like the world was ending, as if we’d be under attack indefinitely, with malls blowing up, trains derailing, maybe locust swarms devouring crops.  I felt like I’d never feel safe again.

Time passed, and we healed, for the most part.

I can’t help but wonder if to some degree, the terrorists won.  We seem to have become a meaner nation, less tolerant of each other.  We entered into a war, and we haven’t won.  We’ve accomplished some things, but at what cost? Our economy is in shambles, unemployment is way high, and we have the teabaggers spewing divisive hate. People are ranting against the “Ground Zero Mosque,” which is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero.

I think we lost something that day, but I think it transcends the loss of those buildings and those poor souls.  The way we’ve changed as time has passed, giving up freedoms and harmony in the name of “patriotism,” we lost something precious. 

This is still a great country.  We’ve survived wars and Watergate and the Designated Hitter Rule, and we’ll get through this.  I hope that in time, we pull together instead of pushing apart. 

The hashtag asked “WhereWereYou.”

I woke up hungover about 6pm, utterly clueless.  I took a shower, fed Kitty, went down to my truck, and headed toward work.  I was listening to Glenn Beck (at the time, the non-crazy local afternoon host on WFLA), and he talked about seeing the World Trade Center fall.  I had no idea what he meant.  I pulled into Wendy’s and bought a chicken sandwich.  They played news updates from ABC News.  I still couldn’t believe it.  I got to work, and the TV in our control room was playing CNN.  They showed the crashes over and over and over.  They replayed the crumbling buildings, and panicked people leaping to their deaths.  They shared the estimated death tolls of 20,000 t0 25,000. 

I got scared; I got drunk, and I wrote.  The fears of the early morning hours of September 12th never came true.  Other things happened that were perhaps worse. 

I look at it this way: I’m happy and content on my little sandbar.  I’m grateful to have a job and a home and friends and punkins and my online peeps.  I’m grateful that I finally hit bottom a few years after 9/11, and got help and rebounded. 

I just hope that this country has hit bottom, that we’ll stop with the Quran burning madness, and rebound as well.   On 9/11/2001,  I was in a bad place that got worse, then I got better.  On 9/11/2001, this country was in a bad place that got worse.  Here’s to the healing, to the getting better. 

That’s where I was.  Have a great weekend.

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8 Responses to “#WhereWereYou”

  1. gundersonbee Says:

    I’m on Pacific Time, so this happened at 6am, my time zone. I used to work out early, and watch CNN while I did so. So at 5:49am I turned the tv off to take a shower, and then the rest was just on the radio. The DJs said something about a plane that had run into the towers and they thought it might be one of those little twin engine plane versions. How niave are we.

    When you have a kid… it’s all different. My whole thought process when all of this was happening, was how to keep it from my kid (he was 6 at the time). I was terrified, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t see all that until we had a chance to talk.

    I dropped him off at grandma’s (she took him to school for me) under strict instructions to keep all radio and tv OFF.

    And when I’d come home from work, the same thing… no tv, no radio, no nothing. My whole job that month was to keep him away from all the chaos. And thank goodness his school was of the same philosophy.

    In a way, it helped establish a bit of calm in our lives, when the rest of the nation was going nuts. We’d play chess, or cards, and do homework, and he felt safe without any idea of why. That was my goal.

    When he was about 10, I let him watch one of the DVDs (I think it was the one with the french brothers) and he got it. I don’t know how to elaborate. 😦

    The irony is that grandma died last year on 9/11. Perfect for her… she hated being the center of attention, but I am so resentful of this date… the twin tower and pentagon and airplane people don’t have a copyright on this date. This date is the date my mom died, and that, right now, means more to me.

    Loss and grief is an evil equalizer. I feel like I have just as much right to grieve tomorrow as those who lost loved ones on 9/11/01. But publicly… it doesn’t carry as much weight.

    Whatever…

    • One of my vox friends was born on 9/11. It’s sad how that day has been hijacked by what happened. A lot of it, I think, is that it happened in such a big way in such a big city–the biggest media market in the land, and home to all the networks.

      In the media and in the country, I think it will fade in time, as more 9/11’s pass. The hoopla will ease, even if we’ll never forget (like Pearl Harbor on 12/7). I know it will always be a tough day for you. My thoughts are with you, GB.

      (and thanks for writing a comment more eloquent than my post 😉 )

    • I’m thinking of you today, first.

      Second, I’m wondering which is worse, since we both lost parents on notable days. Today, you’ll see a lot of somber people (although not as many as in years past). My dad died on March 17, a day when I see a lot of really happy, really drunk people.

      They’re crappy days and I can’t imagine I’d feel that much better if I saw a lot of people unhappy (especially since they’re unhappy for a different reason) but it’s really lonely sometimes being the only unhappy one in the room.

  2. Freedom Smith Says:

    I was driving my son to a homeschool science class. My friend called my cell and told me that Washington was being bombed!! I did not think to turn on the radio. When I got home, I turned on the TV. I called my parents. I called others. It was a tragic, traumatic, and stunning day.

    You are right about our nation. I hope this is the bottom and I hope we will head back up now!

  3. good thing I’m not an envious person. seeing that you and I have written essentially the same post.
    essentially the same in the same way the Taj Mahal and a holler shack are both homes.

    • I’m sorry I wrote a holler shack. 😦

      Thank you for the term, holler shack. That’s awesome, and it reflects the homes of many customers I’ve talked with today. 😀

      Have a great weekend, M

      • Ha, as if you two could ever write poorly.

        But this post was 10 times more moving than the news coverage of the 9/11 memorial service in NY today. I felt bad for the families who were there, mourning their loved ones: but FOX and CNN kept cutting to the demonstrators in front of the “mosque” three blocks from the Twin Towers site. It only made me realize how small and fearful we have become as a people and as a nation (basically what mariser said). Your post made me realize how much more we need to love and affirm.

  4. I was at home (stayed home sick). My roommate called me and told me to turn on the tv. At first I could not believe what I was seeing, then I started thinking about all the people involved. I cried for all the people that got killed, I cried for all the people that were injured, I cried for all the families of those same people. I finally got to a point that I had to turn everything off I just could not handle another image of it.

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