Sunday, September 11, 2011

nine one one

On September 11, 2001 a 13 year old girl, 14 year old boy, and a 17 year old girl settled down at school ready to start the day's studies. It was just another day until they picked up on vibes from whispers and confused expressions of teachers and important school folks letting on that something was happening. There was enough non verbal communication to confirm the sixth sense we all posses that things were out of sorts. Out of sorts in a deeper way than we've experienced before. 
My three teenagers started the process, like we all did that day, of comprehending what was taking place. Hearing the first descriptions, seeing for their own eyes on TV, and reconciling emotions hard for anyone to understand was just the beginning.
Thinking about what others are thinking about was starting to get the best of me. I was 1600 miles from home in Baltimore, MD trying to with utter futility place a call home. "All circuits are busy" is a recording permantley burned into my memory of 9-11.
Mercifully I got a ringing sound and mercifully someone answered. Knowing that dad was somewhere on the East Coast, the question I got was "where are you exactly" from a wife wishing I was home. With as comforting voice as I could muster I assured all at home that I was safe and would find a way to get there as soon as possible. 
Two fellow peddlers and I jammed into a rented Ford Escape and headed home. 1600 miles gives three men ample time to digest, speculate, and contemplate events so profound. Events so profound that ten years later the three of us still wonder if we understand what happened and how it affects our nation today. From that ride back home I remember more than anything the hours of complete silence. Three extroverted sales types with nothing else to say. 
The three of us in complete determination to not let terrorists change our lives did what most road weary Americans would do. We checked into a motel and efficiently sought after a damn drink. By the evenings end George Bush had no idea how much he needed us, or how sound our advice was. My two friends and I had worked it all out. We just needed the trigger. 
Rolling into our airport in Houston to collect our cars from the parking lot was as sobering as anything I've experienced. An International airport in the fourth largest city in the country completely void of traffic, people, and moving air planes.
Finally back at home, after hugs of relief and confusion, I couldn't get enough of the images in the news. I felt so completely connected to people I didn't know. For the lady I saw run as the tower collapsed I wanted to hold her. For the person falling from the building I wanted to catch him. The firemen made me feel like my dad did on a stormy night when I was a kid. I wanted to be there with them all and tell them face to face I'm sorry and thank you.
I miss the mood of America in the months after.  I miss walking into a grocery store making eye contact with a stranger and knowing instantly we were on the same page.  No words were needed.  The strength of the common thread binding us all is a feeling I long for.
Remember everything.  Remember the tragic changes in lives.  All of our lives.  Remember we have more in common than we remember.  When politicians and talking heads remind us of our differences remember how united we were in the aftermath of 9-11.
Honor those that fell, saved, and protected by remembering we are Americans indivisible with liberty and justice for all. 
One nation under God.

No comments:

Post a Comment