911 Reflections From NYC

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Ten years ago today, I was in Chesterfield, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. At my home, a 1700 sq. foot condo I’d gotten as soon as I got out of college, I got the news. The evening before, I’d gone to Best Buy with a good friend, Leah, and purchased a new home stereo. To test out this stereo, I also purchased Steve Earl’s Essentials. The next morning, after checking my E mail and cleaning off all items of necessity from my desk, I went down to the living room, popped in the CD, grabbed my 12 string and started learning some new songs.

Somewhere in my impromptu jam session, the cordless phone rang. A female friend on the other line asked the question we’ve all come to associate with something tragic: Are you watching TV? I, like so many other people, had the initial impression that this plane into the World Trade Center wasn’t that big of a deal. Probably a Cessna, I thought. Or, even if it was a jet, it can’t be the end of the world, right? Wrong. I slowly walked downstairs, thinking there was no big reason to rush. I flipped on the TV just in time to hear Peter Jennings blurt out, “Good God!” Then, I knew something big was happening.

I returned the favor and called several friends to see if they were watching.All I remember is one who was not. I told her and I’ll be fforever cemented in her memory as the one to break the news.

Ten years later, I’m now living in the city where the attacks happened. Sure, there was an attack on the Pentagon, and the plane went down in rural PA, but I think most of us associate the attacks off 911 with New York.

Here, what is the vibe? Honestly, I’m not sure it’s that different than the rest of the country. We all were attacked that day, not just New York. Were the tears New Yorkers cried any worse than someone in Tulsa? Maybe due to proximity, but we all were rattled to our core…New Yorkers were just closer to that core. Here today, there was a memorial service on the lawn at Columbia. I did not attend. Nor did I watch any of the footage. For me, I don’t need to sit down to try to relive the trauma and drama. I think about it every day. I think about the helplessness we all feel. I think about how we all wanted to hug our families tighter that night. I think about a few of my single friends who, without our families, all went out to a local bar to dampen the day and watch the President’s address from the White House. That day is as set in my mind as my wedding day, the days Carson and Dasher both retired, the funerals of my grandparents and a good many others that have left scars on my soul.

I’ll not close with something “usual” like “We’ll always remember” because, ffrankly, we won’t. Time will go on. A generation down the road, the taste won’t be as ffresh. But I know as long as I livve and my mind works, 911 will be part of my day. It has to be because that’s the day our lives….yours, mine and the world…changed forever.

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