I was asleep when the first plane hit. A batshit southern girl I used to hook up with in my neighborhood called me. All she said was, "Turn on your television."
I saw the image of the hole -- that smoking hole the first plane left in the side of the building. I stared. I heard the newscasters babbling but I couldn't understand them. From the sound of it, THEY couldn't understand them. I just stared into that hole.
I had a physical therapy appointment that day, over on 19th and 5th I think, and, in full automatic shock, I decided to go to it. As I was getting dressed, the second plane hit. I took Sonny the dog for a quick walk before I left. I saw a couple of neighborhood kids from the Fulton Houses freaking the fuck out, screaming, and I heard our jets overhead. I brought the dog back in. About then the first building fell.
I went to my P.T. appointment. The people there were shocked, stressed, dazed. Although they didn't say it, I could tell that some of them were miffed that I had come. At the same time, they were looking for something to do. They worked on my shoulder for half an hour and I left. On the walk home, there was a big crowd looking down 6th avenue. That's where I was. 6th and 19th. Looking right at the second tower. Almost nobody made a sound. We just stood there, with our mouths open. The second tower came down in slow motion. Like a giant metal layer cake collapsing from the inside in a Godzilla movie. The only thing I remember anyone saying...a little southeast Asian guy with a high voice was standing near me. He said, to no one in particular, "They been tryin' to do that shit for years, man. Since 93. Finally fookeen did it man....finally fookeen did it..."
I turned away and started home. It wasn't that I didn't care. It wasn't that I wasn't shocked. But given our foreign policy and our military policies, I was not at all surprised. Here in the US, in those days, I think we didn't really get how the actions of our government angered so much of the rest of the world, and we were pretty complacent and clueless about what they might do in retaliation. Whether you agree with our policies or not, if you're a bully, common sense says you should lock your door because someday, if you keep hitting someone long enough, they might come try and hit you back.
When I got home, I watched the TV coverage for hours and hours. Pretty much unable to move. I knew everyone was ok, thanks to the phone. Shocked. Numb. But not surprised. I guess that's what steadied me in a way. All the things we've done to other peoples to keep our cars running. Our bellies over-full. Mass bombings. Invasions. Sanctions. Worst of all, supporting puppet governments of nations with resources WE want, and not doing anything as these governments enrich themselves, robbing their own people while letting us take what we want. Many of these places, where we get our resources from, or our goods manufactured, are filled with people who themselves have trouble getting food, or electricity, or medicines for their children. I make no judgement of those policies here, but you have to know that wether you agree with those things or not, they piss a lot of people off. And if you're smug, and your guard is down, those who spent all their days dreaming of ways to retaliate will find the cracks in your wall and slip right through them. The two courses of action left to us were either change those policies, or sacrifice more liberty for more security. You all know, by this point, which door we've chosen. Anyway, It wasn't until later that night, when I smelled that burnt plastic smell, that it REALLY hit me. The sadness. Fear. Anger. Hope. Crazy. It's been crazy ever since.