I woke up groggy. Went downstairs of our row-home at 3629 Hamilton. Probably turned on FoodTV or something around 9:30-9:45. One of my room mates was already in class and called me proclaiming “the sky was falling”. He wasn’t making sense, but said his building was evacuated and to turn on CNN. I clicked over, and saw the terrible news. My heart skips just re-living this.
It was all going on before my eyes. I didn’t know what to do. I called my friend and cousin who lived in New York, but the new cell phone technology was jammed. I called my parents, but still couldn’t get through. I watched the carnage on the couch with Irie (my dog) obliviously curled up on my lap.
I eventually broke my stupor and went upstairs to my sleeping girlfriend at the time. We watched the news coverage of New York, DC and Pennsylvania in tears, holding each other and trying to compute what the fuck was happening. I’m sure it was the same in every town, city and metropolis in the USA, but we heard Philadelphia was next. I remember being in bed with the dog and girlfriend just waiting for the blast of armageddon shattering our window. Our last flash of life blown out by a dirty bomb or kamikaze airplane. By noon or so, there was a live broadcast of the senate, looking shellshocked, and I remember more tears and a feeling of abject hopelessness.
Myself shellshocked, I walked down the block to the bodega and got us some egg sandwiches, and I’ll never be able to shake the death silence of the block and sullen atmosphere in the bodega. Hours after the attack, there was a sense in my West Philly neighborhood that life must go on, but in a incredibly heavy way no one knew what was happening or what would happen next.
In the days and weeks to follow we were glued to CNN, and they told us to duct tape our windows, store water and canned goods, the growing body count. The beginning of the era of Fear.
These times were filled with fear and uncertainty, which I think have shaped the past decade plus. Everyone alive in the United States has a story that is similar at best, and tragic at worst. I’ve been in New York for the past handful of 9/11s and there is a proper sense of reverence. Especially with the memorial lights hauntingly rising into infinity above the night sky. I’m in Atlanta this year and don’t feel that. It’s just another day. I’ll be sad today, and I hope the rest of the US takes a second to think about that shitty fucking day, and feel for the heros, victims, family members that were in a historically wrong place at a historically fucked up morning.