i can't even begin to find words for this, but i need to. the events in New York and Washington today have been unbelievable, my brain is screaming, my heart hurts, and there needs to be a way to talk about this.
i was sitting at my desk this morning, hadn't even gotten coffee, and my boss came by to ask if i'd heard. i had heard someone make an offhand comment about a plane crash, but hadn't really processed it. boss man said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and that the television was on in the training room.
at first, i thought it might have been the WTC downtown. i go by it every time i head down to work job #2. i stopped boss man as we walked around the corner in the hall, and asked 'the WTC here? or there?' it was the one in New York.
we all scurried into the training room. people were sitting around, in various states of distress, disbelief, and anger. we kept shushing people; it was around 9:30, and events were still unfolding. it was hard to take in what we were hearing. the image of smoking buildings on the screen didn't make sense. they didn't make sense. and somehow, people were getting information from everywhere - phone calls, email, watching sites on the 'net. as we watched the towers in flames, someone said the Pentagon had been hit. and then we heard there might have been a car bomb by the State Department.
we sat there, watching and disbelieving. and as the story started to sink in, i panicked. i have friends in New York and DC. my best friend has family in New York. and i needed to talk to her, let her know, ask her if she was watching the news, and had she heard from anyone.
i ran back to my desk, and picked up the phone. i punched the speed dial, and waited. and waited. the trunk lines were so jammed up, i couldn't get a call out. i tried every number i could think of, to make sure it wasn't just one or two numbers. no, none of the service was working. *shaking head* i walked back into the kitchen to get some coffee, and went back to the training room.
people were drifting in and out, talking about their reactions and watching the TV. several people said they had the urge to re-enlist. my knee jerk reaction said 'don't answer violence with violence'. and yet, it made sense. we were all struggling for a way to understand, and find a way to make sense of the facts, such as they were at the time. that was one way to feel some sort of control, some way of fitting the facts into your life.
i lasted about another 10 minutes, and then needed to know if my friends were okay. i strode back to my desk, and found the phones still jammed up. at that point, i snapped. slammed the coffee mug down, grabbed my bag, and ran for the elevators.
of course, my answer to stress is to smoke. i very nearly lit up on the elevator. fortunately, i caught my reflection in the door and stopped. ran out of the office, and made my way over to my best friend's house. it seemed unreal that the sun was shining, and people were just going about their business. i wanted to yell, 'don't you know? haven't you heard? there's a catastrophe happening!' when i got over there, her mom answered the door.
it was a surreal conversation. the setting was normal, the day was lovely, and the topic was unreal. she invited me in, and suggested i go up and turn on the TV.
unbefuckin'lievable. i flipped on a local channel, and there it was. the towers were smoking, and the facts trickling in. syb came upstairs, and there wasn't even a way to have a real conversation. she said she was headed out to walk the dog, and did i want to stay? i would have rather done something normal, like walk with her. but i was glued to the screen. she said that if the phone rang, just answer it, and she'd be back in 20 minutes. as she was changing, i started 'oh my god'ing, as the first network reports of a possible car bomb at the State Department were coming in.
i kept watching. the phone rang, and i grabbed it. forgetting that you had to turn it on, i tried to say hello to a still ringing phone. when i picked up, it was kat. thank god. thank god. she was fine. watching the insanity from her house, but fine. as we were talking, she got another call, from her fiancè. she came back and said that she had to talk to him, but at least said that he was downtown, and in one piece.
syb came back shortly after that, and as i heard her coming up the stairs, i started crying. part stress, part relief, being able to tell her that kat had called. kat hadn't been able to get thru to her parents, so syb went down to try and call them. you know, at this point, i don't even know when things happened. we might have seen this together, or not. i watched Tower #1 collapse. syb let kat's parents know that things were okay, and we watched the tower collapse.
do you remember the film Independence Day? i didn't see it, but i saw some of the scenes from it. that's what it felt like. we had switched over to CNN, and that's what it felt like. how else to describe it? we've only ever seen scenes like this in movies. there just is no frame of reference for something this huge, this monumentally catastrophic.
i headed back to the office a little bit later. it didn't make sense, but what else to do? told syb i'd call later, and started walking back to the office. people were walking down the street, crying, and talking on cell phones, probably trying to reach friends. as i came around the corner, i saw two women from my office driving down the street, and they told me the office was closing down. ran back to grab a few things, and headed home.
it was so odd. checked my PO box, and the radio was on, covering the events in NY. after getting a new key, i stopped in to a restaurant near the office to see if any of my friends were there, and watched the local broadcast of the head of security at Logan. what else could he say? 'we're working with the FAA, and i can't confirm or deny anything at this point.'
i started to head home, and was overwhelmed by the urge to do some retail therapy. i just wanted to do something that seemed normal. instead of shopping, i decided to get a spare copy of my car key. it seemed so stupid, so inconsequential. i nearly started crying when i was talking to the guy behind the counter. but it was a small piece of normalcy. of course, they didn't have the blank for it. and you know what? it didn't matter.
stopped to get some food on the way home, and outside the store, the construction guys had the radio going full blast. i stopped outside the store to listen, and then, shaking, walked home. i stopped to see if Frenchy was home, because he doesn't have cable and i wanted to let him know he could come by if he wanted. not home. i walked around the corner, got my mail, and walked in to the house. i can't even explain how happy i was to see the cats in one piece. they didn't know what to make of me coming home in the middle of the day, but i was thrilled to see them.
i tried calling my friends in NY. i tried calling my friends in London, who know the same people. the lines were still clogged, so i tried calling my parents. that call worked. i didn't want my parents to think that i was working tonight, because job #2 is in spitting distance of Logan. god love my parents... they hadn't even thought of that. i'm so glad they weren't freaking out. and it was good to have a conversation with my dad about normal things, like gravel and construction and vacation.
managed to get ahold of my sister after that. she was fine, her husband was fine, her father in law was fine. she'd been able to get ahold of all of her friends but one, and they were fine. *looking up, thanking god/goddess/powers that be* and then i was able to get thru to my friends in London. they were relieved to hear that the people we know in NY are okay. while i was talking to them, i got another call from my best friend. i so wish i had conference calling so i could have hooked them all up in one call. as it was, i played the intermediary, and passed messages back and forth.
um... WTF? people dancing in the streets and thanking god for this event? oh... i can't even begin to understand that. and Lawrence Eagleburger... i am gobsmacked. what sort of fucknut is he? 'we should kill someone. it doesn't matter if it's the right terrorists. we just need to kill someone.' all i can say is thank GOD he isn't in office today. *shakes head* doesn't that sort of thing make us just as cowardly as the people, whomever they are, who did this thing?
the rest of the day has been about watching CNN, napping, emailing friends, calling friends, checking in with everyone, telling them that i love them, and being grateful that so far, no one we know has been hurt. there are still a few friends and acquaintances in NY that i haven't been able to track down, and friends in DC that i haven't been able to get in touch with. two people in my office were flying out to the West Coast today; we don't know where they are right now. i have a horrible sinking feeling that the pilot of one of the planes is family of a friend. i am praying that no news is good news. and yet we have no idea about so many of the details, that i worry.
you know what? all the problems i was worrying about? fights with friends, stress about work, issues with boys, problems with car? nothing. Nothing. they don't amount to a hill of beans. these are not problems. today, i am grateful that my friends and family are okay, and my heart bleeds for those who have died or lost loved ones. that is the only important thing right now.