(i wrote this essay in 2004, and every year i'll move this up to my front page on the anniversary of september 11.)
i remember how blue the sky was as i drove to work that morning.
i remember hearing a colleague say, "a plane flew into the world trade center." we thought he was kidding.
i remember running upstairs to the office cafeteria, where the television was. aaron brown was mid-sentence when the first tower fell; some asshole laughed and said, "yo, did you SEE that?!?" no one laughed with him.
i remember going back to my cubicle, unhinged, numb. the news sites wouldn't load, but we kept hitting refresh anyway. i finally pulled up an image from msnbc, pixels of exploding fire. people gathered round to look. one woman came up behind me, threw her arms around me, and said it was the apocalypse.
i remember racing home early from work, listening to joan baez singing "amazing grace" on the radio. i had to pull over, i was crying so hard.
i remember army trucks heading south as i headed north. and like the cars in front of and behind me, i rolled down my window and waved. the soldiers waved back.
i remember frantically calling my husband, at a school further south, to make sure he was okay. calling my uncle, on the upper west side, to make sure he was okay. calling my aunt, downtown -- where she, her husband, and their eight-year old son lived, a block away from ground zero. they were all okay, but their son saw everything. everything.
i remember watching peter jennings that night, and as the wind changed, the smell of the disaster wafted into our living room. that smell...
i remember how my stepmother was beside herself -- she hadn't heard from her cousin paul, a new york city firefighter. she never did. he wasn't supposed to work that day, but like so many others, he responded to the call.
i remember calling all of my friends the next day, to check in – including my
old friend pete, in dublin; i knew that his brother matt worked
downtown. but he hadn't heard from him either. and he never did.
i remember being filled with such immeasurable sadness, i didn't think my heart could contain it.
i remember donating florian's old hiking boots for the rescue workers, whose boot soles kept melting.
i remember the harrowing wail of the bagpipes at paul's funeral.
i remember jon stewart saying, "the view from my apartment was the world trade center…but you know what the view is now? it's the statue of liberty. and you can’t beat that." then, for the show's moment of zen, he brought out a puppy -- balm for a city’s soul.
i remember the fleeting sense of unity we felt; it didn't matter if you were
left wing or right, democrat or republican. everyone felt… related.
until bush blew it.
i remember when the next issue of the new yorker arrived, with art spiegelman's cover. it was so dark, so subtle, it took me a minute to see it, to get it. and then i lost it, careful not to drip tears on the cover. (i still have it.)
i remember the memorial service here in cold spring, down at the waterfront. as we bowed our heads in silent prayer, a flock of geese burst forth from the riverbank in a cacophony of squawking, irrepressible life.
i remember thinking, i hope people remember.