Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering where I was -- and so much more

When recalling a prominent moment in history -- JFK's death, the moon landing, the Challenger explosion, Sept. 11 -- people are prone to use one of my least favorite clichés: I will always remember where I was when it happened.

Of course, it becomes a cliché because it's got a huge nugget of truth embedded in its triteness -- we do remember where we were. But it's so immensely insufficient for me when I look back at that September morning seven years ago.

I still remember the panic in my wife's voice when she woke me, and -- despite my grogginess -- I recall exactly what she said.

I still remember that feeling in my gut as I sat before the television screen and watched hell unfold -- an ache much like I remember feeling when, as a kid, I slipped off the bike pedals and landed stomach-first on the handlebars.

I still remember my disbelief that these monumental structures -- where, as a teenager, I had stood on the observation deck more than a thousand feet above the New York City sidewalks -- could be toppled by the combination of jet fuel and hatred.

I still remember the feeling of unknown for our country -- what would this mean for us? -- and the fear that this was just the beginning.

I still remember Tom Brokaw signing off that evening with the reference to 9-1-1, the first time I'd made the connection between the emergency number and the date.

I still remember the anger I felt toward Palestinians who were dancing in celebration over the attacks.

I still remember concurrently trying to figure out how to explain the circumstances to our 4-year-old while wanting to shield her from the events altogether, even though the television -- which we kept watching for days -- replayed the events ad nauseum.

I still remember the feeling of unease around the fact that we had been trying to get pregnant, and suddenly weren't so confident in the world in which we would bring up our children.

I still remember the eerie silence in the days immediately following the tragedy, silence brought about by the lack of airplanes in the sky. And the unsettling rumble once those planes again took to the air.

I still remember my sister-in-law's fear that my wife -- who worked in a multi-story building downtown -- faced the same vulnerability as those thousands who perished when the twin towers fell.

And I still remember the men and women, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, friends and neighbors, who never saw their loved ones again.



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