I was getting myself ready for my WKU classes that day, which meant getting into my swimming suit and gathering my books. Mom came home from dropping off Kelly, who was so small then, at school, and said she'd just heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. She turned on the news just in time to for us to see the second plane hit the second tower. I don't think either of us could process it - I retreated into the bathroom to change, contemplating what could possibly have gone wrong to cause such an egregious accident, with two pilots in two planes on the same day...
I opened the door to the bathroom and walked down the hall towards the living room where the tv was blaring and my mom sat with her hand over her mouth, her eyes watery, and my heart sank. In retrospect, it was like my childhood disappeared with that realization that there was no accident.
I went to class, and I don't remember if we swam that day, but I remember our swimming instructor talking to us about the choice we faced to continue as normal or not, and what each choice meant on a deeper level. And I remember all the TVs in the complex being tuned into the coverage, live images of the towers, smoke, and the stomach-churning images of poor souls jumping from impossible heights to certain death.
I don't remember where I was, but I remember seeing the towers fall...first one, the smoke, the running, the fear I felt for the people who were not yet my neighbors, and then the gut wrenching realization that the building was just gone ...I must have gone home. I was in my living room again to see the second tower fall - and from that moment on I don't remember that autumn very well.
10 years ago today, I wrote two blog entries, the first a desperate plea to my New England friends to be careful and stay away from major targets. The other was my 16 year old self's honest reaction to what was happening all around me:
2001-11-16 - 10:46 a.m.
The smell of something rank, vaguely reminiscient of sour milk, that I know must be the scent of rotting flesh and ever settling dust, smoldering in the air.
What they keep from our eyes can't escape our noses.
Or our hearts.
2002-09-11 - 2:44 p.m.
The wind blew hard, whipping sand in the faces on the few people left on the street. Somewhere in the distance a churchbell began to toll. The sun was in the middle of the sky, and the clouds rolled mournfully above the dusty landscape.
silence reigned. The sound of the wind carried no voices, no heavy footsteps. I stood waiting for the signal, my nerves on end. There was a complacent tension in the air, everyone had a tacit understanding of the situation. The signal came, Ilooked both ways, and walked across the street. Today, there were no taxis to nearly run me over.
I began to feel that the wind was made up of all the souls who were lost, and that the sand it was forcing under my skin was recreating their wounds in my body. Perhaps this is a way to keep us from forgetting, if the living bear the scars of the dead. The bustle of this famous road is muffled, crowded with people who feel that their lives could be in danger, and those whose memories are plagued. They are all just looking for each others hearts.
As I read that now, I have disturbing inklings of what that 'sand' may have been; there should not have been such particles about - there has been less foreign substance to the air in subsequent years - and with the destruction yet so new and near, I shudder to think how literal my musings could have been.
But today there was no wind, no sand. The only significant sounds were the newly independent footsteps of Hazel, and the increasingly aware conversation of Cadence as they, these two beautiful, vibrant girls walked down the streets of this city they call home, the city they were born in, the city they don't see as broken because they've never seen it any other way...and it really does all make sense. Terribly cheesy as it may be; they hold the future in their tiny hands, and to them it is beautiful, full, and open.
Mayhap it is simply that their inheritance of the reigns has removed the need for sandy scars, and offered the ghosts some peace.