the life of zooey who happens to be Bipolar 2
Those of us over 20 or so will have some sort of inkling of what today marks. The older, the more detail. I am older. I remember. People remember Pearl Harbor and other national tragedies in the same manner. This is not different.
It starts a week before that fatal day. We were leaving a Mexican restaurant called, “The Salty Iguana,” filled with too many chips and salsa and burritos. Walking to our car in the parking lot somehow we were on the topic of terrorism. One workmate said she’d read about how terrorist could use US domestic planes filled with explosives as weapons. I dismissed it as conjecture. I mean seriously, quit being so paranoid, Julie. Wasn’t that a fiction book?
Cut to a week later. I was sitting at my desk, working through email when I received a call from my ex.
“A plane ran into the World Trade Center.”
“No way,” I said as I heard a TV being rolled to the center of the pit/room and plugged in by Dianne. The TV was on an old AV cart and old it was as the hills. We used reception to get local channels. Many in the pit had also received calls or saw it on the internet. We gathered, some standing, some sitting on the floor to watch the coverage. The first world trade center was burning. Not many were talking, all were glued to the scene and listening to the commentary.
Then the second plane hit. There was a collective gasp and people started freaking out. Several people grabbed tissues off their desk for those crying. The shock was palpable. That was a fucking intentional attack. The plane made a turn and intentionally crashed into it. Both the damn towers were on fire. We SAW the plane hit. Motherfucker.
A few minutes later the news came the Pentagon was attacked. The press jumped around from site to site. We watched. There was nothing we could do but watch this horrific day unfold. On one cut back to the WTC scene, a man was caught on camera jumping to his death. “Burn alive or jump. People are choosing to jump”. I immediately remembered my mom saying she struggled with the same question, waiting to be rescued from the MGM Grand fire in Las Vegas. My parents and grandparents were stuck on the 14th floor, breathing into wet hotel towels wondering what their choice would be for over 7 hours. Jump or burn to death? The story of the fire is actually on YouTube.
It wasn’t clear during the initial reports of the last plane going down in Pennsylvania was a part of the terrorist attack, but none were ruling it out. Speculation was that it was headed to the White House or US Capital building was most likely on the target list. So far, all had been centers of power: trade and military. These would be next.
Then the first tower collapsed. Seen from a distance, it was dramatic. Seeing eyewitness footage, it looked like a bad movie. It fucking did look like it with billowing dust and debris flooding the streets while people panicked, running for any cover, a store, behind a car, down another street. It showed people afterwards, covered in white powder, some with marks from oxygen masts wandering, stunned. A reporter asked on camera for a ‘pull’ off a fireman’s mask. I wondered if some of that powder contained remains of people who perished in the fire.
I couldn’t help thinking, “I knew about this ahead of time. But, what could I have done?” Nothing, I know, but the feeling of uneasiness of knowing that week before has stuck with me since that day.
By this time, the powers in the office let us go home. No work would happen that day and we all wanted to get home and hug our families. We left and went home to watch the other tower collapse later in the day and continuous coverage of all the sites and horrors. Of people frantically looking for friends and family working in or around the sites.
In days afterward, none of us could make sense of the act of violence. A, “pure active if evil.” The president said. Where was anything good? Someone posted on the internet a quote by Mister Rogers.
And so I leave you with one of those helpers. One of the dogs searching for survivors, then victims of that fatal day at the WTC celebrated her 16th birthday in New York. A small token of one of the many committed helpers to right the terrorist wrongs. On her first assignment, she searched for life, then also comforted those who were at ground zero cope with the death and carnage around it. That’s really a picture of her above.
Happy Birthday, Bretagne,