THIS JUST IN: AMERICA IS PART OF THE WORLD AFTER ALL.
My roommate, Donna, woke me up just before 6am PST shouting, “A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!” Donna is a school teacher and the only person I know who is up that early in the morning. I think I mumbled something like, “Bummer,” and went back to sleep. Moments later, she was in my room again shouting, “Another plane just crashed into the other World Trade Center building, and it looked like it was aiming right for it!” And then, “Oh my God! A bomb exploded at the Pentagon!” That got me out of bed. I didn’t leave the TV set until 10:45, when I took myself and my walkman to the bustop and listened to the news all the way to work. It was probably that walkman’s very first experience playing anything other than music. What an initiation.
Of course, we now know the details of what happened today. Four large jets were hijacked by terrorists. The first crashed into 1 World Trade Center at 8:45am EST and exploded. 18 minutes later, a second jet crashed into 2 World Trade Center and exploded. At 9:40am a third plane crashed into the Pentagon and at 10:37 the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, aparently unable to reach its intended target. At 10am 2 WTC (which was hit lower down than the first) collapsed. I was on the phone with my mother when it happened and couldn’t believe what I’d just seen on TV. “It’s gone,” I kept telling her, “It’s not there. It’s just gone!” A half hour later, 1 WTC collapsed while we all watched. Those huge buildings were completed and destroyed within my 36 years. I can’t believe they are just gone.
Most of us Americans have long had the privilege of ignoring terrorism. It’s something that happens elsewhere. And War is just another reality TV show. We take our security for granted. And when acts of violence happen in other countries, we just go with our lives, many times blissfully unaware of them.
For myself, Sept 11 will be the day my psyche was brutally ripped from its warm, protective, American womb and flung into the middle of the world — the whole chaotic, unjust, messy world. I may still be hybernating in front of my keyboard for days on end, but part of my brain will be on active alert and my eyes ready to tear up at a moment’s notice.
Go down to the Basement for a tour of the horrors this day has dredged up. It’s a work in progress, so be patient. And please turn off cell phones and listening devices as a courtesy to those wearing pacemakers or controlling large aircraft.