A few weeks ago I kept typing 2001 instead of 2011 (my typing skills in general have started diminishing over the past few year). I would not say that I yearn for the past, despite a tendency for misremembered nostalgia, so perhaps I was having a brain/hand battle as I mentally geared up for the 9/11 onslaught.
Ten years is a milestone, sure, yet I don’t want to hear a thing about it now or in another ten years. The only way to live in peace would be to stop watching TV, reading or leaving my apartment (I managed to accomplish the latter so far today and it’s 5:30pm—ok, it’s now Saturday afternoon and I still haven’t gone outside). I do not want to be heartbroken, remorseful, grateful, mindful, patriotic or reflective. I am not afraid of potential terrorist attacks (nice knowing you, if this turns out to be my last pathetic post) and I do not want to hear any lost tapes or transcripts detailing horrible confused phone calls. I did not enjoy reading this one bit, nor the entire issue, at the gym and later on the plane to Charlotte last Friday. I’m naturally gloomy; I don’t need any extra heaviness to dwell on.
On September 11, 2001 I had an 8:30am appointment in the East Village for an MRA. I forgot the A part of that acronym. My blood pressure was usually high for my age (it still is) so I needed to get some sort of imaging done to see if I had a blood vessel problem, particularly with my kidneys. I can’t imagine being anywhere that early now, but I had to be at work by a reasonable hour and didn’t have the flexibility that I currently do. After putting on my half-assed gown in a dark windowless basement, I was told about the IV and contrast dye. Uh uh. I freaked out and left. (I was scheduled for a brain MRA a few months ago because I have weird headaches with dizziness and nausea that always seem to occur on Saturdays—in fact, I’m having one right now, which has me concerned about getting in a car to drive to Astoria to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes using my LivingSocial/Fandango cheap tickets because it’s being a passenger that triggers the barfing—and I also cancelled that appointment.)
It was still early, summery (yes, most of September is not fall and I will repeat this until the whole world agrees with me) perfect weather. Polling places were open for an election. Political flyers were being handed out on corners. I didn’t know what the race was and wasn’t registered to vote anyway.
I went back to James’ apartment, a block from Union Square, because I had a tiny bit of time to kill before catching the subway to Park Slope. He was conked out after taking Benedryl the night before because the new cat we’d picked up at a Long Island shelter two days before was giving him allergies. Caesar the cat was supposedly four then. I guess he’d be a senior now, but he’s very spry and energetic doesn’t seem old at all except for the fact that he has no teeth. But it turned out he never did really except for two front fangs that fell/got knocked out shortly after we got him. He quietly cried and meowed that first Sunday and has barely made a peep since. Caesar is a silent, toothless cat. I knew people who adopted cats left behind from World Trade Center victims. I wonder if they’re still around?
I was recently 29, close to 30 as I am now to 40. I don’t remember this being a big deal, though I recall at 27 saying I was mid-20s and my hairdresser at the time corrected me “that’s late 20s.” When I am 49, 39 will seem silly.
Ugh, I’m already reminiscing—where were you on 9/11?—too much, which is what I was trying to avoid. Ok, my favorite (used subjectively) part of the morning was heading out to work, seeing people on fire escapes and everyone looking up and southward and kind of ignoring large gatherings or spectacles like I usually do, going to Au Bon Pain to get a coffee for the commute and asking a guy, late 30s, maybe a little whiskery, environmentalist-looking with glasses, who can remember for sure?, “What’s going on?” and he looked at me like I was the most vapid, clueless human on earth and spat back in a huffy, male Valley Girl tone that lilts up at the end like a question instead of statement, “A plane hit the World Trade Center?” Uh, ok…oh shit. Maybe it was an accident? Upward lilt.
The subways had stopped running and I was very concerned about being late to work because my boss, the only other employee, was out of town that week (I was eventually fired anyway, slightly less than two months later now that I think about it, and I didn’t work full-time again for a very long time). The payphones were all dead too. (It bothers me that many current articles make mention of how things would be so different if 9/11 occurred now as if we were in a technological dark ages ten years ago. People who were teenagers in 2001 and now have media voices have no idea what they are talking about, so shut it. No one was Twittering or updating Facebook or using smartphones, but email and the internet—yes, broadband—were definitely mainstream in 2001. I’m a weirdo who was very late to cell phone ownership but people certainly had them in 2001, my friends all did, ha, I even mention it in an entry from 9/12/01. Heck, my odd, old boyfriend in Portland had one in ’97. People were able to update websites in real time. I did. Ok, not exactly real time—I just re-read another entry and I couldn’t upload until the afternoon, but that would be no different in 2011 under similar circumstances. People of now always think they are savvier than the people of yesterday. Then again, I just noticed that I was using Yahoo! as a search engine in September 2001 to check the spelling of Burberry. What a rube I was!) I decided to hotfoot it the block back to James’ to tell him what was going on and got to the northeast corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue when a city bus stopped a few feet from me and a bunch of injured, but obviously mobile, people started disembarking. Next to the gentleman sassing me at Au Bon Pain, I most remember a bleeding man walking towards me with ripped clothing, covered in dirt and dust and only then I realized something very serious was happening.
The missing-persons flyers–hopeless reminders that stayed up tattered, covering fences and walls, for months and months—were the worst. They’re all dead, someone take them down please, I thought. At some point they disappeared.
And this is the last thing I’ll ever write about 9/11.