How We Enter The World

For Thou Art With Us.

I posted that up last year, because it’s one of my favorite pieces of writing ever, because it’s just what happened, no need for embellishment, therapy, it’s showing-not-telling, it’s immediate, detailed, just what happened. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing needed.

My story’s the ordinary dull stuff, what everybody was doing. It was my first day back from vacation, I was driving to work, tanned and happy from a few days in San Diego watching Doug Flutie lead the Chargers to a win and eating seafood on the patio of the Coronado. I was still sort of blissed out from the ocean. I was listening to the local suburban mom station, because the news guy has a deep sexy voice and I liked to hear him read the headlines before I switched over to NPR or the local news station. He mentioned a plane had hit the World Trade Center, I thought he meant a small plane, like some rich businessman’s Cessna. When he said another one hit, the two stupidass giggly celebrity-whore DJs shut up and the whole thing got very quiet. By the time they mentioned the Pentagon I thought, this has to be a joke, like War of the Worlds, they’ve got to be fucking with us.

My default response in times of crisis, once my tasks are completed, is anger, and I spent a good few weeks pissed off at the stupid that then ensued in the Chicago suburbs, the unemployed assholes who painted their chests red white and blue and drove up and down a wide street shouting USA and carrying (I kid you not) tiki torches. The local creep who threw beer bottles through the windows of a tiny mosque. The guy who called me to say, in all seriousness, that the reason everybody was so pissed off at Arabs was that his mother had heard from someone at her bridge game that somebody’s cousin saw an Arab kid steal an American flag. Another jerkoff beat the shit out of his Syrian neighbors. Women in hijabs were told to stay inside their houses, keep their daughters indoors. It became, for a few weeks, a siege of idiocy and nonsense, and that’s why I don’t have much use for 9/11 nostalgia, because all I remember is the hate.

So I don’t lay claim to any part of today’s more honorable remembrances; I lost no one I knew well. It was a couple of days before I heard from a friend who worked in Washington, but he was fine, and the family members who were (and are) in the military weren’t affected until weeks later, months. My husband works a block and a half from the Sears Tower, occasionally I wish he worked somewhere else, but I’d never mistake my paranoia for participation in anything close to what Sars is describing above. Despite what we think, grief does have a hierarchy, and today belongs to the people who can still smell the dust and the burning.