a.m. | the
smoke, the mayor | tuesday
p.m. | emails | terrible
at 9:25 Tuesday morning, I began to get emails from people on
the west coast, people in the south, a friend in Thailand. Like
the reflex of a hand covering a shocked face and the unanimous
use of words like "surreal" and "horrifying,"
the phrasing in these emails was all the same: "I hope
that you and yours are all ok." ("You and yours"
is suddenly as popular as "salacious" became during
the Lewinsky thing.) Amanda called from Michigan. Wednesday
morning, Sean finally got through from London. He'd been trying
for half a day.
isn't an adequate way to describe how embraced I feel knowing
that people want to know I'm okay. I've always had a small-scale
complex that, when it comes to Jed, out of sight is out of mind.
Thank you for showing me that it's not true.
heard so many secondhand stories of people who were supposed
to be at WTC who weren't. A sprained ankle kept someone home.
Another person arrives early and decides to go to the gym first.
Eric and Shirin only saw the smoke because they stopped for
coffee instead of getting right on the subway. My Dad's friend
Rick worked in the building until four weeks ago. And yet all
of these happy coincidences are eclipsed by the scale of the
loss. I heard secondhand that they were ferrying bodies off
of lower Manhattan to New Jersey ...
the devastation on TV, I felt a strange guilt that I was in
Brooklyn. As if I was supposed to be closer to what was happening
to my home town. I've come to love Brooklyn, but when I say
"the City" I mean Manhattan and I always will. Kelly
said she felt it too, the guilt. And my friend who just moved
to Thailand was thinking about going back to San Francisco,
after only a week abroad, for the same reason. Did anyone else
feel this? An almost irrational wish to be here.
colleagues at Web Lab have been exchanging email about our disorientationnot
knowing how to feel. One of them wrote the following; she was
trying to cover her daughter's ears as the sirens went by:
the first few times she thought it was a game and then soon
after, she started to scream in terror every time they went
by. ... she started to crawl that day, tuesday, doing fast
tight circles on the floor. sorta strange. like she wanted
to get out but couldn't.
in the "below 14th zone" was strange, and under other circumstances,
would be appealing. deserted except for your neighbors, no
cars, no planes above, just people on bikes, walking, rollerblading,
skateboards. just the localish restaurants were open, everyone
hanging out outside, dazed, wondering where to get a newspaper.
the cloud arrived yesterday, that was it. i had had enough.
enough being alone, enough sirens. the bits of paper and ash
in the air and the acrid smell of chemicals were really alarming.
i felt beseiged in my own home and protective of my baby.
i quickly closed all the windows, but one big one by the kitchen
was stuck. i frantically tried to tape it with garbage bags
while she wailed on the floor below. she picks up everything
i feel and all my body language of course. here i am trying
to protect her from these elements and i just add to her alarm
killed in the Civil War:
Soliders killed in Vietnam:
of PanAm Flt. 103 bombing:
of Oklahoma City bombing:
casualties at WTC:
no question that grabbing the camera in those first few minutes,
and helping sign in volunteers at the hospital, and writing
this now have been ways of dealing and avoiding thinking too
much about the meaning of these events for me.
the good fortune to be safe and have my family and circle of
friends intact, the thing I feel most strongly is grief that
my durable, timeless city got hurt so terribly. Outside a pub
on Court Street, I watched the crowd drinking and talking loudly
on Thursday afternoon. On the TV, CNN was showing live pictures
of the Capitol being evacuated, while the jukebox played "Bad
Moon Rising" over the din.
week since Tuesday, Brooklyn has been busy with pedestrian traffic,
people eating, walking, hanging out in the beautiful weather
that feels undeserved. It's been three days and I feel powerless
and angry with myself. Angry that I didn't immediately go and
start picking up debris somewhere downtown. Angry and sad because
my ambitions feel trivial, and my unhappiness about it all feels
even more so.
hope it's helpful or interesting to hear what it's been like
from this single perspective. Take care of yourself and the
people around you. Talk to you soon.
all live here together in peace and mutual respect.
That is the ultimate rebuke to what they did.
Former President Bill Clinton
New York City, 9/13/2001