Sunday, September 09, 2007

9/11/01: Where were you?

There are some moments in life that divide time irreversibly into "before" and "after." For anyone in our generation, 9/11/01 is one of them.

I'm leaving out the details. Although the whole scene is a mosaic of memory fragments, I'd rather avoid the risk of boring you and sacrificing yet another bit of my anonymity. So I am posting only one shard of the mosaic, a particularly sharp one. You can add pieces by posting your own story in the comments.

I was away from home at the time of the attacks. "Home" at the time was not far at all from Ground Zero, so I wasn't able to return until the next day. I was relatively young at the time and felt quite far away from my family, despite having been reassured that everyone got out OK. It was the kind of time when you want your father and mother close by.

I returned home on September 12, 2001 to a whole different world. The air was thick and gray, and I couldn't identify the smell except that it made me think of crematoriums and gas chambers (though of course I had no frame of reference for that either.) Every time I absently touched the subway handrails, my hands came away white with ash.

Finally, I arrived at my home, an island of familiarity in a changed city. As I approached, I noticed something on the door that seemed strangely out of place. It was colorful and loving.

"Happy Birthday, BasMelech!"

I had completely forgotten.

6 comments:

Scraps said...

I was in seminary at the time, and we were on a tiyul that ended with a visit to the Kotel for mincha. As we were entering security, there was a man on line who was on his cell phone with someone in America, and he told us the news. We all got together and said tehillim after davening, and then we went back to school and watched the news on our neighbors' TV. B"H in my seminary no one's family was directly affected, though we had a few scares. It was nervewracking trying to get through to all of our families, though, because it was hours until the cell phone networks worked again.

halfshared said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lvnsm27 said...

I was going to santa monica college and I was on my way to class that morning. I kept hearing different things about something happening in NY and I couldn't figure out what happened. Then later I asked a classmate what happened and she told me. The school had two TVs in the cafiteria showing what happened. It was unbelievable

David_on_the_Lake said...

I was on the NJ Turnpike wathcing the whole thing happen...
Absolute horror...

Zahava Pasternak said...

I was living in Charlotte, NC and my office had the news on the rest of the week. I was a nonJew at the time. I was horrified yet at the same time my heart lept with anticipation because I knew we were/are in the birthpangs of Maschiach.

I noticed you left a comment on my blog regarding my conversion. Thanks! And yeah, I hear this comment a lot. Shana Tova!

The Dreamer said...

i was in a html programming class in israel... we watched it all on cnn and other sites...
couldn't get through to my family, and kept wondering if my dad was ok...
an aquaintance of mine lost her father...