I had intended to write an entry on Sunday, a 9/11-ten-years-later-piece with my recollections of how I experienced that day and how I think the world has changed since. But it was too much. The constant barrage of mandatory reflection instigated by the media and the fact that – everywhere I looked online – everyone else seemed to be writing the same piece… well, it all exhausted me.
So I don’t think there’s much value in adding my 9/11 into the mix. My day was probably a lot like yours. I heard about it from a coworker, I made a joke about it, it got really real really fast, and then the world changed.
But what I’ve been trying to recall since Sunday is this: what was the world like for me in the days immediately following 9/11. What was I (the averagest of average Joes off the street) going through? How did I feel?
So the internet being the internet, I went back in time. No flux capacitor needed; I just pulled up the blog I used to have so long ago. Yes, it still exists. And, in the interests of preserving whatever dignity I have, no I will not give you the URL. I mean, some of the stuff I wrote… Let’s just say I was very young.
So, as a look back in time, what follows is what I went through ten years ago today. Part of me winces at the naivete, part of me wants to tell that kid that some things will get better and some things will get worse, but that he and we will still be here, truckin’ along.
I cried at lunch today.
I know I’ve said before that the events of Tuesday had made my cry, but they really didn’t. I’ve gotten a little teary over the past few days, but nothing approaching real weeping. I’m a tough little trooper, see, and real men don’t cry.
I cried at lunch today.
I was alone, as I am most days. I drove over to my little hiding place so I could listen to the National Prayer Service and have my own personal moment of silence. I listened to the cold words of comfort from national religious leaders. I listened to the President. Tried to imagine what it would be like to be him right now. I do not envy you, sir.
Then I switched over to Don and Mike and listened to the voices of Americans just like me. One man didn’t know how to explain things to his ten year old son. One woman was close to tears over the Jerry Falwell comments. One girl my age worried about war. One elderly man worried about terroristic reprisals.
The image of the buildings coming down would not leave my head. The image of firefighters raising the US flag in their own personal Iwo Jima floated through my thoughts. The memory of my first words after I had heard that the WTC had collapsed:
“Things will never be the same.”
My eyes teared. ‘America the Beautiful’ came on the radio. A passenger jet took off from BWI. I started to sob. News reports of people walking around lower Manhattan in a daze. No words, just pictures of the loved and lost taped to their chests. My sobbing would not stop. I thought of the CEO whose 700 employee office is entirely unaccounted for. I thought of our President, ostensibly the most powerful man in the world, visibly shaken after visiting the Pentagon.
And I began to cry. Slowly at first, but building as the moments went on. Finally able to hold it back no more, my body spasmed with grief. I don’t remember ever losing control like that.
Back at the office, a quiet moment waiting for the elevator. The security guard approached and, almost whispering, said, “Mike, you’ve been crying.” I gave him a defiant “Yes”.
“It’s ok,” he said, “Me too.”
I guess the security guard and I are not real men.
I don’t give a damn.