Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories of 9/11

Brad and I were in Washington D.C. ten years ago on this day. He had a training in Falls Church, and I decided to go sightseeing in the District. I had an appointment to tour the Capitol and was hoping to see Tom DeLay. They hadn’t arrested him yet, and I wanted to thumb my nose at him. Half way down the Mall I heard a sound. It was loud, everywhere and nowhere, an explosion but not an explosion. A minute or so later a guy came out of a building to my left.

“Someone flew a plane into the Pentagon,” he whispered.

“You're nuts? The Pentagon is the most secure building in the world. That is like pissing on Zeus’ shoes.” I was a little harsher than I intended.

In exactly the same tone and exactly the same words he repeated, “Someone flew a plane into the Pentagon.” He walked away.

I knew I had better get back to Falls Church – Papa would be worried. I went to several Metro Stations that were closed before I boarded a train that let me off about 10 miles from my destination. Thanks to the kindness of a stranger, as Tennessee Williams said, I got a lift.

My dear husband was standing on the portico in front of our hotel. He was smoking. Brad is cardiac and has no business smoking. In my befuddlement I start toward him to raise hell. As I reached him, he took hold of my hand and said with tears in his eyes, “I thought I had lost you. We heard the Capitol was hit.”

“No,” I said. “Just the Pentagon.”

“Barbara, the Trade Towers are down in New York.”

“What, they just laid down?”

He turned and led me into the bar where a number of people gathered around a big screen T.V. looking at the ash and rubble which had once been one of the jewels in New York’s crown. I ordered a double bourbon - neat. I don’t drink, so I gave it to the guy next to me and told him to drink it for me. He did. He’d had several.

I bought a package of smokes and went outside to sit on a bench near the door. The color of the sky, of the trees and flowers had muted, gone flat and surreal like the world of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone or an Ingmar Bergman film. Now and then, and particularly on this day, those colors return like the lingering heartache for a lost loved one.

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