Wednesday, September 12, 2001

It was a long night last night...

I left work early. I wanted to get home before Jessica because I didn't want her to turn on the TV and catch any news. I didn't get home before her, but, in only a world where Jessica lives she managed to turn the TV on and immediately switch it via remote to Cartoon Network and she didn't hear word one about what was going on. So she was oblivious when I broke the news to her.

Her response: "Let's kick their asses now!"

Uh, that's not what I expected from her. She was kind of joking around about revenge and bombing the crap out of "them." I told her it is hard to do when we don't know where "they" are hiding or even to some degree which "they" they are.

I don't think any of this has sunk in, nor is she taking it seriously. I tried to explain to her that in life sometimes things happen that you'll never forget where you were or how old you were. I'll never forget the Challenger explosion. I'll never forget John Lennon's murder. I'll never forget the US Hockey Team beating the Soviet Union in the Olympics. My mom's generation will never forget where they were when JFK was assassinated. Before her birth, Pearl Harbor was the standard of measurements. Where were you when you heard...

I told her this was her Pearl Harbor. It will change the way her country and her fellow citizens act. It will change the way people look at one another. It will change all of us whether we want to or not.

We talked about it for about 20 minutes, then Doug came home and turned the TV on so he could see the situation. And we all watched it. She thought the plane hitting the WTC tower looked cool, and if it was a Hollywood special effect, yes, it would have been "cool." But it is so real. So real. And I don't think that has sunk in yet for her.

I'm numb from watching that plane over and over again, and numb from watching the towers crumbling, the soot and dust and debris flying down the streets. That's my city. That's a part of my life there. What!

Tonio K. once sang that New York is a "filthy concrete bitch without a soul," and I often laughingly agreed as a biter, sarcastic, jaded former child of the area. But over the 24 hours the bitch's soul has revealed itself. She has been tested. She is rising to the ocassion in the form of heroes and volunteers. This is just astounding, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at the city again the same way.

I included the picture above because it makes me LAUGH! I find it amusing and absurd and am honestly laughing when I look at that. Those are English words, right? I recognize them, I speak them, I say them aloud. They make sense on their own. Put them together though and ... they just do not register. They do not compute. New York City never closes to traffic or anything else for that matter. How is New York City CLOSED. This boggles my feeble little mind and shakes my soul.

I mean, it's one thing to drive down the highway and see one of those orange and black light-up signs saying an exit/ramp is closed. Something like "Exit 34 is Closed Seek Alternate Route." Or even what we have now in Boston. Massport has a sign up saying "Logan Airport is Closed." That's hard to believe, but that happens once in a while. Weather usually is the culprit. But NEW YORK CITY??? Closed. Closed to Traffic. Man. I have to shake my head two or three times to clear it and let those words fly around inside. Closed.

"I wanna wake up in a city that doesn't sleep, to find I'm King of the Hill, Top of the Heap..."

That sign is all the way the hell in Buffalo. Buffalo. They're giving motorists a lot of notice.

I wonder what is going to happen to all the trucks trying to get to Long Island to deliver goods to the stores. I wonder what is happening for commerce trying to get through to that area so it can procede to other areas. I think it's going to be messed up for a while.

Speaking of being messed up for a while, I know people who think they have lost someone in NYC. I know my mom is exposed to kids who may have lost one or both of their parents, who as of yesterday afternoon had no idea where their folks were. They are going to ache for some time to come.

My sister says she feels "uncomfortable in her skin," sort of the same way she felt when she came out of the theatre after seeing "Seven" with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. She feels completely revulsed, completely ill. I feel nauseous, as if I am coming down with the flu. I feel like I have a fever, but I don't. I feel like I'm going to puke any second now. I think I'm going to feel this way for a while.

Stories are coming out of the rubble that folks are being found alive. A man rode the building collapse down from the 82nd floor of one of the towers. Like surfing a wave. These stories of unbreakable survival usually make me smile, I feel excited, happy for these people who make it. But I know there are thousands under them, crushed or slowly starving or dehydrating, who may be alive in a pocket of air right now, but won't be for long... and that takes my breath away and makes me shake.

A friend of ours sent an email last night out to all of his friends and relatives. I thought I'd include it here to share with you. It expresses some of what I'd hope to share with you all. I don't know how many people read this journal, probably just a handful of folks and most of you I know... I doubt there are strangers out there who discovered my journal in its listing on ... I never get any feedback from strangers. Most of you who have written me in the past few months are friends. So I have no fear in letting you know, dear reader, that I love you.

Here's from "Smitty." It says what I want you to know... And I'll leave it at this for now and try to get some work done. I love you all.

"I've sent a similar letter to my family. Now I'm sending a letter to my friends. It's tough after a day like this to find something positive to say. It's still very shocking.

I took a walk on City Island this afternoon... with a friend whom is receiving this as well. For those of you who don't know what City Island is, it's an Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River that's very active and geared towards family entertainment. The Harrisburg Senators (minor league baseball team) play there as well. The sky was blue with a few clouds. It wasn't too hot today. From the Island you can see the Harrisburg skyline. And there's a walking bridge linking the Island to downtown Harrisburg. On a typical day that bridge is filled with people rollerblading, people walking their young children in baby carriages, young couples simply taking a walk, and business men and women returning to or coming from work. Looking north you can see up the river with mountains on either side. It is a very pleasant view. And while I obviously could find something positive on this day, this beauty is one that I take advantage of. I take for granted that nothing will ever happen to my place.

"Sadly it could, as we all found out today.

"I feel the need to embrace the things that I love. I also feel the need to embrace the people I love, too. And please know that I do love all of you. You all mean something to me and have somehow impacted my life in one way or another. In a positive way. Thank you. I love you all. And I'll talk to all of you soon I'm sure.

"Love, Smitty"

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