9/11, zoolander

Lately, I have thinking about that day more than usual. I remember the weather — it happened to be gorgeous out that Tuesday, part of the oddity of seeing hordes of ash-covered folks in business suits quietly marching through the West Village, where I lived at the time, past hip brunchers (who did mysterious things for money that enabled them to brunch in the middle of a workday…I always wondered about that). I had been sleeping when it all happened, having just been laid off the week before. My roommate Joslyn called me to tell me the news but I couldn’t make sense of it through the fog of sleep. By the time I was finally focused, both planes had hit and one tower collapsed. I ran up to the roof with Husband, who back then was Boyfriend, to go a catastrophe with my own eyes rather than through the TV, a first for me. I saw the second tower collapse. It was hard to understand what had happened, because all we could see were people zigzagging on the street below and the tower being consumed by a black cloud. And when the cloud was gone, so was tower — THAT made no sense. It was almost like a magic trick, making more than 100 floors disappear in an instant.

As it happened, Kara, one of my high school friends was working in the towers that day and survived. She was usually in midtown, so I wasn’t worried about her, but that evening, she and her brother buzzed my door in the evening, and the two of them, me, and Boyfriend went to have dinner and she described her day. She and her brother were still on the hunt for their cousin, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.

The whole city was in mourning. It was in a weird state of normalcy and grief. You walked out to the hospital to give blood but you were turned away. People cried in public, but you could still shop at Barneys. The weather was weird. lots of blustery wind, which some interpreted as ghosts, and of course, that lovely earthquake the next day that made everyone panic that NYC was being attacked again. I think it was that week I went to see Zoolander with Becca and Mike, which was very silly but the whole audience found especially funny, probably just relieved to feel something other than freaked out and sad. At the end of the film, they have some aerial footage of the NYC skyline, where you can see the towers. I heard they had thought about erasing them, but decided to keep them there, and I was very glad for that.

My parents had been touring Spain at the time and were stuck without a flight home for a while. When we finally spoke, my dad wanted to make sure I was alright and said that 9/11 reminded him for the two wars he grew up through and how he never thought he would have this feeling again in his life. My mom mostly freaked out that I was unemployed. She didn’t mention the big tragedy at all. Typical of both of them.

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