I didn't want to write this entry from my apartment, distracted by cats and the comforts of home. So, I write it in the coffee shop; a place where active lives converge at a point and intersect before they depart. I'm comfortable, sitting at my favorite table by the window. My iPod is on, and I have a choice of listening to that or to the chatter over the jazz playing from the speakers. Outside, a woman sits with her dog as others come to pet it. I have a choice of getting up, walking outside and petting it myself. Or, I could stay here and continue to enjoy the scene. I could also leave and drive anywhere that my car will take me. All are choices that are available to me, and are limited only by my imagination and the laws of physics. I could see a movie, drive by the water, take my paints, canvas and an easel and paint outside. I can take a walk, or a nap, or climb the fire escape to my rooftop where I can sit, hug my knees and watch the giant, billowy clouds float over the cityscape. So many choices, and I've only named some of the smaller ones.
On September 11, 2001, the choices for over three thousand people were denied them by not just terrorists, but murderers. The only choices they had were to die by fire, smoke, or jumping to their deaths. To fight back once they learned the plane they were on had been turned into a missile, and to make final calls to loved ones. The murderers made the choice for the world to watch or listen in horror, helpless to do a damn thing but cry out in disbelief.
My flight attendant sister was safe. A few days later, I'd learn that a letter addressed to me was on one of the planes that hit the towers. My name, address had burned in that hellish fire, or, like the same invitation that was found by a stranger, been lost in the chaos on the ground.
On the evening of September 11th, after a day of watching the news, I lost it. Maybe one day I'll post about it, but right now I just can't bring myself to share it. Many would say I was justified in losing it, and those I've told have said they would have done the same thing in my situation. However, it wasn't them who did it. It was me. Losing it and acting on it. I'll say this much; that the little piece of shit who almost hit me with his car will probably act differently next time he's confronted about it. After I lost it, it was me knocking on my neighbor's door at midnight, waking him in a fit of tears to confess what I'd just done, and break down on his couch about the horror I'd seen on television. God bless him, he sat there in his robe and let me get it out. He didn't judge, just understood and hugged me as I cried in his arms. The next day, he left a bouquet of flowers with an American flag ribbon attached at my doorstep.
This will be my last post on September 11th about September 11th. Like I've said before, I'm a different person since that awful day. I detail this, and the story about the lost mail which made USA Today in the below links. I also ask for you to watch the videos I've chosen. Three different takes on that day, one being an actual last minute recording of a man trapped in the World Trade Center whose choice was stripped of him on that horrible, awful, terrifying day. Watch them until the end. Of course, it's your choice, as you are lucky enough to have one.
December 12th, 2004 My Visit to Ground Zero in 2004. Includes picture of me there.
September 11th, 2004 America, Interrupted.
September 11th, 2002 One Year Later, and a tail of hijacked mail that got delivered.
September 8th, 2002 Before the first anniversary, thoughts of Them.
July 4th, 2002 Independence Day.
May 1st, 2002 An Unwelcome Companion.
April 1st, 2002 A Fireman's Daughter's Tales From Ground Zero.
March 11th, 2002 From Letters to Rob. Six Months Later.
November 11th, 2001. From Letters to Rob. One month after the attacks, I took refuge on set of The West Wing.
Call from Kevin Cosgrove from inside the South Tower on September 11th 2001 just before collapse. The video is synched to the time of the call to illustrate the events. Warning that it may be disturbing to some.
David Letterman's first show after September 11th. I remember watching this and being very moved by it. It was sad to see the usually funny man David Letterman in this state, but he expressed himself eloquently.
This man heard Live's song Overcome on the way to work when news broke in about the first plane hitting the North Tower. Since the song always represented September 11th to him, he combined it with video footage his wife taped from the news. The result is very powerful and an appropriate ending to this post on September 11th.