I’ve about had enough of that.
I rode past the Pentagon 15 minutes before the plane hit. I was sitting at my desk when my office building shook. Shortly afterward, a colleague’s son called her, and her voice rang out throughout our division, “THEY HIT THE PENTAGON?!?!” Another colleague drove me home that afternoon, and as we sat in gridlock, we watched the plume of smoke rise and dissipate on the horizon.
I had a nephew working on Wall Street and an in-law in the Pentagon, both unharmed, but out of touch long enough for me to feel as though my own heart had stopped. I can still hear my sister’s voice on the phone, as she watched the towers fall on live TV. “I haven’t heard from Billy. I don’t know what to do. Oh, my God. The tower. The tower is falling. Oh, my God. Oh, no…”
I can still hear my ex-husband’s voice on the phone, frantic. “No one’s heard from Charlie.”
I found out a couple of days later a high school friend died on Flight 93. He was the co-pilot. Several others I went to high school and college with died in the towers, either because they worked there or they were first responders.
My wedding was seven weeks after the attack, and the first real positive event my family, friends, and coworkers attended after that terrible day. Many of them asked my ex and me if we were still going to have the wedding. After the rehearsal dinner, my ex and I took a walk on the Mall with one of my sisters, her husband, and four nieces and nephews, my god-daughter among them. The Mall was nearly deserted, testimony to the District’s continued shock, fear, and grief, not the way I had hoped to introduce my nieces and nephews to my beloved city.
In the months after the attack, I rode the Metro among National Guardsmen and police who were armed to the teeth. The trains would pull into the Pentagon station very slowly–once they were allowed to stop there–and those who got off there needed to be authorized or they were held, questioned, and either escorted out or put back on the next train to come through. The smell of smoke wasn’t as pronounced as it was in the tunnels in Manhattan, but commuters who rode the trains every day could detect it through Thanksgiving.
And still, triggers and prompts remain.
Every time I walk the National Mall and see the jersey walls…
Every time I look at photos from my wedding…
Every time I travel and have to take off my shoes or deal with some blue-glove groping my breasts…
Every time I hear the acronym “TSA…”
Every time I see an image of George Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice…
Every time I watch the news and hear the word “terrorist…”
Every time I take a ride into lower Manhattan…
Every time Hollywood churns out another movie about the wars begun in the aftermath…
Every time I interview a health care provider at the VA…
Don’t tell me to “never forget.” I couldn’t forget if I tried.
Every parront knows that when a bird is silent, the bird is up to something. The photo above is how I found Inigo when I concluded a call this afternoon. He was wedged in there so tightly, I don’t know how he could breathe. I couldn’t pull the towel back to get him out, either. I had to lift the cushion on the sofa-back. His head and beak were very warm, and his neck smelled all spicy and birdie.
This isn’t the first time he has hidden. He loves to bury his head. I took the photo below back in 2005 or so. Sorry it’s a bit pixellated. It has been saved and re-saved a number of times. But you get the point.
We all have days when we just don’t want to come out.
It has only been six days since I posted here, but it seems like a month to me. I’ve been buried under an avalanche of work and writing into the wee hours, but the time I’m putting in is a short-term sacrifice for a long-term benefit so I’m not complaining.
I’m not a tremendous fan of Ross Perot, but he once said something about small business owners that tugged at the corners of my mind every time I questioned my own sanity with freelancing: Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success.
Well, damned if I was going to be one of them. All I can say is that those who didn’t believe in me really should have, and because they were so unsupportive, and even outright hostile in their disparagement of my choice, they are now cordially invited to kiss my tiny heinie, nyahh and so there.
(Poem created with the online Poet Magnetic Poetry Kit.)