Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day of Remembrance

This morning, my favorite morning news channel rebroadcast the Today Show's entire morning show from 9/11/01, hosted by Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. It was uninterrupted, so for almost two hours before school, instead of studying, I sat gape-mouthed and watched the events unfold.

I didn't watch the news at all when the events actually took place, eight years ago, because I was three time zones behind and woke up well after it happened, and because I left the house immediately to go to a very needed dentist appointment. I saw clips of the devastation while sitting in the dentist's chair and looking out the window over the completely calm little city of Everett, Washington.

I lived through a number of bomb scares while living in London, one-a bus bomb-actually taking out the bus I normally took home from work on a night I chose to walk. The idea of shocking terrorism was not foreign to me--just a little unreal on home turf. I repeatedly found myself pondering throughout the day if what happened in New York was just the beginning; if there was more wreckage to come, more surprises to wake up to in the coming days.

I worked that night at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle and there was a lot of talk about the important section of the city that had been closed down to traffic. Celebrities like Eve, whose flights had been grounded at the airport, found their way into our restaurant and drank and ate as if it were New Year's Eve, which gave all of the waitstaff a soapbox to stand on behind the kitchen doors, between visits to our tables. For me, although I joined the chorus of employees that protested any establishment staying open on such a tragic day, I actually felt grateful to be surrounded by my people when catastrophe was at hand; to be surrounded by friends and companions to share that mind-melting awe and wonder with.

When I visited New York a few years ago in the middle of winter, I went to the Ground Zero site to see for myself what had become of the site of the two towers in the five years since the attack. Unlike what most visitors that I've talked to about it experienced, when I walked along the parallel roads, there was nobody around--it was the most desolate place in all the world in a sense, because the sounds of the surrounding world could be heard, but only in a very muted, far away way. In contrast to the hubbub of the city--this patch of baldness was empty and void. Nobody else was in the walkway with me. Nobody else was reading the "We'll Never Forget" signs with me. It was a lonely walk.

I had a strange dream for a long time involving grey and black patterns; and one day I was flipping through news sites on the internet and came across a section of photos from a few photojournalists. I paused on a picture of people jumping out of a burning, crumbling building. Can you even imagine being in that situation? Something that only happens in nightmares and Samuel L Jackson movies.

But what stopped me was the building itself; it's cement structure. I realized that it was the image from my dream. Somewhere along the line I got these images of crumbling buildings and people jumping stored into my personal hard-drive, only showing up in anxious, confusing dreams.

This morning I listened as the names of the dead were read aloud at Ground Zero; family members of the victims covered in clear plastic rain jackets and holding photos and mementos. Losing my dad to a sudden heart attack was tragic enough--I can't imagine what these people are feeling, even all these eight years later. Because to me, eight years seems like a lifetime ago. But to them, one wonders if they woke up this morning and said to themselves, "It's only been eight years since you were here with me."

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