No, i wasnt in New York or DC or Schwenksville and i didnt know anyone who was killed that day, so maybe i dont even have the right to write about it. But I will. You have been warned not to expect high drama or tragedy.
i dropped my daughter, aged 6, off at her Montessori school,at about 8:40 AM, and continued on down to my office, which was about 1.5 hrs commute. My car radio was tuned to KYW, a Philadelphia news radio station. Soooo….about 10 minutes later, i heard about the first plane. It seemed like a dream. and the reporter who described what was happening also sounded like she felt she must be dreaming. A plane hitting a building? i mean, yuh, it’s a tall building but planes, famously, travel much higher than any skyscraper…an accident, a terrible pilot error or mechanical failure? i drove on. Surely everything would be explained soon.
Then: the second plane.
And where was i when i heard about the Pentagon.. ?
I’m still driving. i called my BMD. he wasnt listening to the radio, so he kinda thought i must be crazy. I’m on the turnpike, i cant turn around, even if I wanted to …did i want to? did i still hope for some explanation other than the one pressing itself in on my consciousness?
i arrived at my office, on the verge of tears, met the eyes of my friends our secretaries and the tears spilled over. i dont remember how long i was at my desk. I dont think i was audibly sobbing. How long was it before my boss came in and said, ”Go home, if you want to.” i did. i hugged him and said, ”we will never be safe again”. Back on the turnpike with the news radio, the reports, later turning out erroneous, of more bombs. My daughter’s school had sent the children home, my BMD had picked my daughter up.
i cried for days every time i saw that awful image of the smoking skyscraper, so like the dire card The Tower in the Tarot deck, the worst card in the major arcana, symbol of terror, flight, rout, ruin.
Oh but our child! i remembered that the worst thing for me, a child during the Cold War and the bomb shelter craze, was seeing that our parents were scared. This was no bad dream, this was no imaginary monster the grownups could laugh away. My darling little girl, how could I shield her from our grief and fear? Now it was MY turn.
Well…I reckon we did okay with that. She doesnt seem traumatized by the memory of 9/11. At the time, she asked me for one of those Never Forget bumperstickers and pasted it up in her room, but she doesnt look back on the incident with the terror i can still feel when i think of the Cuban missile crisis. So, good. I think. It was worse for us than for her and her peers,and we have to be grateful for that.
But selfishly, now that she IS an adult, i wish she and her contemporaries could share my pain and anger about the disgrace and ignominy and agony our country is, completely gratuitously, suffering on this the 20th anniversary of that awful day.
They can’t They don’t. It’s the song of the generations, I reckon.
God comfort you my peers, and God bless and prosper our issue going forward..