Where were you?

42575282_aff47c27b1.thumbnail.jpgI was in Manhattan, watching the last tower fall.

I’m that odd creature, born in Manhattan. When we were kids, my dad used to take us to watch the World Trade Center being constructed. I had my graduation celebration at Windows on the World. I worked across the street, for a while, when I first left college. Later on I walked through the tunnels below every night when I was freelancing nearby.

The day the towers fell, I stopped to vote, which is probably why I missed the news, and then I went to work. I got into Manhattan, and my train stopped under the library, and they told us it wasn’t going anywhere, and someone told me about the attack and I went up to the street and looked down Fifth Avenue (it was really empty) and watched the second tower fall.

I went to work, because I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go, and I had my husband (who works in Queens) go find the wife of someone I worked with, who had a new baby and no landline, and tell her he was OK. Then I had a friend I got on IM from London call my mom to tell her I was alive.

Then I went to the Citicorp Center, where there’s a blood bank, and stood on line for seven hours waiting to give blood. There were hundreds of us. We stood there for hours. It was almost dull, except for when the air force jets flew overhead. We’d been told that there were no planes flying. The building had already been evacuated as a terrorist target, and we thought that there were more terrorists coming. We cringed in unison. We didn’t leave. After a while we started telling each other dumb jokes, mostly about tourists. A reporter from a major metropolitan newspaper chided us for not taking it Seriously enough. When the wind was right, all you could smell was burnt rubber. I was actually pretty grateful for that.

There was a lot of smoke.

I got in to the blood center right before they closed because I have a rare blood type, and by that time they’d realized that there weren’t going to be any live victims so they were stocking up for their usual surgical needs. My phlebotomist told me that she had a relative working in the upper floors of the tower. She was very brave about it. He probably died.

I got back home and we bundled up the kid, who saw the planes going overhead from Queens and wasn’t sure why yet, and took her to her grandmother’s in the Catskills, so she would be somewhere safe. She asked me, while we were there, why those men did what they did. I told her that they thought that God liked them better than other people, so they could do whatever they wanted. She was very indignant about that. She said God likes everyone the same.

She’s a remarkably sensible child.

I ride the train to and from work, and I see the place where the towers used to be out the window. I don’t look on September 11th. I’ve never seen the lights. I’ve seen pictures, and I’m told they’re beautiful, but I can’t look.

I did watch the lest we forget revenge porn video from the Republican Convention.

Well, I haven’t forgotten. We went to war, and I remembered. The 9/11 Commission let us know that things that might have prevented it weren’t done, because no-one thought they were important, and I remembered. The Republican convention shut down my city and drove the people who survived that day from the streets, and I remembered. There’s still a gaping hole in the ground. Rudy Giuliani tried to ride his destroyed bunker and his aimless wanderings around ground zero (lord, I really hate that term) into the White House and turned all that destruction into a national joke in the process, and I remembered.

A lot of people have died since then, and I remember about them too.

Have you noticed that when people remind you, they generally have something they want you to agree to while you’re too busy grieving to pay attention?

Me too.

Don’t forget that either.

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