Remembering 9/11, Five Years Later
I’d hoped to sleep in, I didn’t have to be anywhere for hours, but the phone rang. My partner asked if I’d spoken with my father yet that morning. I routinely speak with Dad on Sunday mornings, and it was only Tuesday. Then she said a plane had flown into one of the World Trade towers. Dad still lived in Brooklyn–my home town–and she was concerned for his safety.
Still barely awake, I trundled downstairs and plopped myself in front of the TV. Over the next couple of hours I was stuck there, watching replay after replay of the still barely-understood events that had happened 3 hours earlier. I didn’t have breakfast or even my mandatory morning coffee til noon. Two passenger jets had each slammed into the World Trade Towers, which soon totally imploded. Another jet had crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth, and last, was apparently interrupted by passengers who ended its flight in a Pennsylvanian field. The FAA ordered all planes to land immediately.
My brother’s a frequent business flyer, and I phoned him in Chicago. His fiancee assured me that he was in town and OK, but there were fears for the Sears Tower and he was somewhere in the mass migration leaving the city. I knew one friend from college had an office in one of the towers; a few days later I heard from mutual friends that she hadn’t been in the building and was OK. I phoned Dad over and over, and didn’t get him for a while. When I finally spoke with him late that afternoon I was the one who broke the news to him–so close, and he hadn’t heard. Months later my brother said he’d gone over the list of names of those missing and dead, and recognized several he’d gone to high school or college with. I still haven’t brought myself to look.
Still that morning, I walked into my front yard and listened. I live between the flight paths of both SeaTac International Airport and Boeing Field, so there’s always the throbbing drone of the prop planes and helicopters, and the dull distant roar of jets. This morning was quiet. Maybe the birds seemed more rambunctious as they squabbled over the feeders and flowers. It was a warm and sunny fall day. At that moment I would have traded anything to be able to enjoy the silence.
September 11, 2006