.... and the message "Due to the events that occurred in New York this morning, we have suspended programming" looked back at me silently. From like 10 channels.
What the hell had happened in New York, I thought, that would shut down half of cable television?
In a book I read as a kid, the British sci- fi author Douglas Adams described an attack in one of his books as akin to "a man getting mugged in a meadow." I've often thought of that phrase when I think of sudden occurrences with what look like no warning.
I turned to one of the network stations. I watched the Twin Towers on fire.
Picture from the Huffington Post. I don't know where they got it.
I lived in Jersey for a brief period in early 1992. I was twenty minutes from New York on the Skyway, and World Trade Center was a fixture I could see across the river I drove. Because I was living there and not just visiting, I deigned to absolutely none of the "tourist" things while in town. No visit to the Statue of Liberty, no Guggenheim, and no trip to the World Trade Center. I found out comedian Sam Kinison died from the ticker in Times Square. I ate at a corner delis and bought silk ties for $5 on street corners. I was (temporarily) a New Yorker. Who lived in Jersey. But everytime I rode into NY, I saw the Towers.
I watched the replay of the second plane hitting the tower, over and over. I listened as the play the raw unedited footage and heard people curse on live network television as American icons were attacked. My cereal went uneaten. I couldn't feel for a little while. Something had hit the Pentagon. The motherfucking Pentagon! More planes were supposedly headed for Washington. There were supposed to be car bombs.
The phone rang and this girl I barely knew was on the phone. If I was in the dark, she was underground. She asked me what the hell was going on. As I talked to her on the phone the first tower fell. Even thinking about it now I feel strange. It's a sadness mixed with a little outrage. We stayed on the phone until the second one went.
When I told her the World Trade Center was gone, the very idea was impossible.
"What do you mean gone?" She asked me.
"I mean like not there no more. As in the buildings are gone."
I don't even remember how the call ended. I watched TV all day listening to every rumor, every bit of insanity that we were all to willing to believe in the moment. I remember my homeboy calling from DC. He's career military. The very idea that they had to fly cover over the nation's capital disturbed him. I didn't sleep right for week.
That was eight years ago.
And last night...I dreamed I was on the street on New York. Looking up at the first Tower on fire. Watching the second plane slam into and feeling the impact in my shoes, feeling the heat from the flames. And running, waiting for the debris to come raining down around me. I have no idea why...that's never happened to me before.
there are nightmares, and then...there are nightmares.