Saturday, September 09, 2006

On the upcoming anniversary...

Monday will be the five year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It is almost impossible to get away from that fact. MSNBC is planning on rebroadcasting that day's Today show in real time, with commentary by Chris Matthews. ABC is going to air a mini-series and CBS is going to air the documentary 9/11. Many cable stations are airing programs that have to do with some aspect of the attack. For many people, "Where were you on 9/11?" has become the new version of "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" While I hope I'll be able to avoid a good deal of this depressing coverage, I'm always drawn into those things that make me feel worse, so I'm sure I'll get sucked in on Monday. Thinking about that this morning, I started thinking about my memories of 9/11.

I was asleep when the phone started ringing. The phone ringing was not unexpected, as my mom often called me in the morning to make sure I was up in time for classes at my junior college, but she was calling unusually early. When I answered, my mother told me that there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. "You're shitting with me," was my response. When I realized she wasn't kidding, I turned on the television in my room just in time to see a fuzzy picture of the first tower crumbling. My first instinct was to make sure you were alright. At your university, just outside our hometown, I had no reason to question your safety, but, just as my mother had called our home to talk to my step-father, who worked nights then, and I, I reached out for you. The first few times I called your pager (God, I can't believe you still had a pager in 2001!), I got the message that all circuits were busy. I think the only other time I had heard that message when I made a call was when I was trying to order tickets for a concert. I'd never had a moment when the whole city (probably both mine and yours) were busying the circuits. When I finally got through, you called right back. You should have been in class. Though before long, I should have been in class as well, though I didn't go. You had already talked to your family and all of you agreed that it was the work of bin Ladin. While the name sounded familiar to me, at the time, I had no idea who he was. I was still so numb, unable to believe that what I had seen on my television could possible be the reality of what was happening on the edge of the country. But, just knowing that the people I loved were ok made me feel a little bit better. I'm not sure why I had to hear from you to know that you were ok, as you were so far from any of what was happening, but I did.

The night before, I had split the skin on my lower lip open, trying to peel of a bit of dry skin. I thought later that I must have had some misgiving that caused me to chew on that split with my upper teeth until it swelled, but, as you would say, it was probably just a coincidence. All that day, I continued to chew on it as I watched the endless news, though they had little real information to report, just the same pictures of death and destruction broadcast over and over again. Five years later, it doesn't feel as if much has changed with regards to the news, except that it has become more negative, with all traces of community spirit gone, replaced by bitter partisanship.

As I was reliving my memories of that day, I realized your girlfriend was barely able to drive when 9/11 occurred. She could only have been a sophomore, at most a junior. I wonder how much she paid attention to what was going on. It all seems slightly comical right now.

It hardly seems like five years have passed.

*Sigh* It seems as if this blog is becoming the public and living memorial to a friendship lost too soon.

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