Seven years ago I woke up to the sound of a plane zooming way too low for comfort. Then a crash. I thought it was Blue Angels, cursed them under my breath, and tried to find sleep again. But couldn’t. The phone rang. I answered it — Linda was still asleep — and her frightened friend told me to look out the window.
The first plane had just hit. I yelled for Linda to wake up. For the next two hours, we watched all of it. Crumble. People falling. Paper everywhere. We screamed, then cried, and did both, and went back to the window. And turned away. And wandered the ashy streets, as if there were something we could do.
In shock, I walked miles and miles uptown to find my Dad, who was also visiting New York. I didn’t know what hotel he was in. I kind of circled around midtown. I couldn’t reach my brother all day, but lo, he walked up to Dad’s hotel right at the same time I did. The three of us sat on the bed, watching those towers fall and fall and fall and fall and fall and fall. I kept crying. They didn’t quite get it, because they didn’t SEE. Really SEE it. Happening.
I’ll tell you the whole story sometime if you ask, because it is weird on so many many levels. And I am changed. And Linda and I have a different friendship, aside from being college roommates and friends after. I am worse and I am better.
I am worse because before that, I had no real comprehension of how awful people can be to each other. I am better because my heart breaks every day for those people who left for work, perhaps in a fight, perhaps in a French kiss, perhaps not wanting to wake the other, and never came home. I have vowed since then to let everyone I know I love them whenever we say goodbye. Because I want them to know it, if we never see each other again.
By the way, I love you. You all know who you are.