September 11, 2001. I was living in a one bedroom apartment on Russell Street in Berkeley, CA. I shared the apartment with my Then Boyfriend and our two cats– Pharohe and Rajah. At this point my awesome telecomm job had vanished and I was scraping money together working, among other places, at the Wet Seal on Telegraph by UC Berkeley. It was early in the morning when the phone began to ring. I ignored it and kept sleeping. Then Boyfriend had to go to work early that day so the alarm went off. We had a radio alarm clock. It came on and someone was talking. I thought I heard something about buildings falling but I wasn’t sure. I wondered if there’d been an earthquake or something. I turned it off and he started getting ready for work. The phone kept ringing. I finally got out of bed and picked it up. My family had been trying to get a hold of me. They didn’t want me going into the city because of what had happened. I was out of it and put on the TV and was horrified. It turns out that I had a journal back then. A gorgeous large spiral sketch book. In it, I pasted the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle the next day. But on September 11, I wrote an entry. Every year, I open my journal and look at it. In that spirit, here it is:
September 11, 2001
The media has called it Pearl Harbor 2. The twin towers in New York have been toppled to the ground by two commercial jets. Another plane has crashed into the Pentagon. Another plane has fallen from the sky and there’s another unconfirmed crash. [This turned out to be an error, remember that?] Some are saying we’re at war. San Francisco is tense as is my family back [home].
More than concern for safety is shock and sadness. The collapse of the first twin tower is on camera. As is the second plane crashing into the second tower as well as its collapse. I’ve never felt so chilled. The disintegration is creepy and something I can’t grasp.
Over and over again I’ve watched endless footage. I feel as long as I’m close to a TV screen with the news on I’m somehow safer. I’m trying to really get this thing and I can’t. I feel as if I’ve been pulled into a movie as an extra. None of this is possible to me.
I hate today. I just want my family.
Ten years later. My heart still hurts when I read or hear or watch coverage on this. My eyes water. My stomach chills. It still makes me ill to think of the people– all of the different kinds of beautiful people who were taken from their loved ones that day. And yet, we are blessed in this country. Blessed that this violence is not part of our daily lives the way it is in other parts of the world. And yes, that’s inevitably where my mind and heart wander.
I’ll be out and about today, not lingering too long at the TV or gazing too long at the newspaper. I’ll cherish what I have by spending time with my loved ones and thinking about everyone that was affected that day one way or a million others. New York, I’m thinking of you today.