Seven Years Ago

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.

Vanessa McGradySeven Years Ago

Comments 3

  1. Don Cummings

    This is a beautiful 9-11 post.

    We were in Ojai—and we heard it from a weird shopkeeper who was following us around a gift store. He said, “A plane flew into one of the towers, then another one flew in, then both buildings collapsed.”
    I was certain he was insane. He had this insane look–and I swear, I thought he was just making suff up. I called my father who confirmed it. (Hm. Father’s Day, huh?)
    I felt that my innocence was ruined. THat I would never be the same again. And I haven’t. The best thing that came out of it was Louise, my dog, a couple weeks later, followed me home. She needed to be rescued. And I HAD TO RESCUE SOMETHING. So it was her.

  2. sucka4poems


    ouch. ok, more than just ouch.

    i NEVER watch tv, but somehow always have one. on 9-11-01 i was compelled for no apparent reason to turn it on. when the “today show” report came on, i was terrified that my amazing sister was in the midst of it all.
    we couldn’t reach her for 4 days.

    i also got an email message from the girlfriend of one of my dear friends, michael richards (not the racist former seinfeld character, but the beautiful and amazingly talented artist) that she couldn’t find him. his studio was on the 92nd floor of the w.t.c., in a much-coveted studio program that was fully-sponsored. he had worked through the night that night and stayed in the studio where people were not supposed to live. he was simultaneously one of the kindest people i’d ever met and one of the most technically-proficient sculptors i’d ever encountered. the ironic and not-so-ironic and tragic and gorgeous thing about michael’s work is probably that his most publicized sculpture was “tarbaby versus saint sebastian,” and here is a quote from the london independent about him and it:

    MICHAEL RICHARDS was probably working in his studio on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Centre north tower on the morning of 11 September. According to a colleague Richards’s last two sculptures were bronze versions of himself pierced by airplanes and accompanied by meteors and flames.

    For the last 10 years he had worked repeatedly with imagery of flight, including feathers, wings and plane parts. The work for which the 38-year- old artist will surely be best remembered was entitled Tar Baby vs St Sebastian, a bronze sculpture made in 1999 consisting of his own life- size body pierced by model planes rather than arrows.

    This bizarre congruity between Richards’s art and the direct manner of his death might seem typical of that odd semi-psychic ability known to artists. Christine Y. Kim, Assistant Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, acknowledged, “We had scheduled that I would see his new work [that week]. His creations often dealt with technology such as aviation, ironically.” But it should also be noted that Richards would have applied for this “studio-in-the-sky” specifically because of his interest in flight and aviation.

    He was extremely happy with this new, raw studio space granted to him as one of the 15 artists in the “World Views” programme run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The LMCC was started 30 years ago and ran the World Trade Center Studio Program to take advantage of the small pockets of empty space always available in these mammoth buildings.

    The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council offices at 5 World Trade Centre were destroyed but Liz Thompson, its Executive Director, found time to honour Richards, the only artist to have died in the events: “We think he worked late into the night. He was so promising. He was on a tear.”

    so prophetic. so on topic. so angelic. i will always remember his contributions to the world of art, and our rilly smart conversations, and the fun outings in mia and nyc. here is one view of my friend’s work: http://ncmoa.org/pressroom/pressreleases/Michael_Richards/MichaelRichardsconservation.shtml

    i’m really lucky that michael richards is one of my angels…


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