Sunday, September 11

**Warning - this is a post about 9/11. Don't read this if you feel you might be r-traumatised. Take care of yourself. Take care of your neighbour.**

The sky; the most beautiful blue and not a trace of humidity. A clear blue sky. A perfect day.

Parvathy calls. We are under attack. Hysteria. She is going to her daughter's house. It's war!

I turn on NY1.

Dad calls. I guess you aren't going to work today. I don't know. There's fires down there.

What the hell is going on?

I see the first one fall. I reach out and scream. 'No!' as if somehow my hands could hold it up. Shock. How could a whole building collapse with all those people in it. Just tumble down?

My niece emails me. 12 minutes after the fall. Am I ok? (How did she know? It had to be after midnight there - she's 11 - what's she doing up?) I flew in the night before and she is worried I am still on a plane. She is among the first to check in. Many more will follow. I let her know; I'm ok. I Love you. My sister comes online and stays there with me.

The second one comes down.

I go down to Shawn's apartment. Everyone is there, glued to the news. He says come in, don't be alone. I don't want to watch anymore. I only want to know they're all alright. NY1 said give blood, so I'm going.

I walk to St. Vincent's on 13th. It's only 7 blocks from my house. There is a plume of black smoke from downtown where the towers used to fill the end of 7th Avenue.

A clear blue sky above.

I walk against the masses of people moving uptown covered in what looks like baby powder and bits of paper. Someone is yelling on a megaphone: Stay away from downtown. Keep walking uptown! No cars at all.

A clear blue sky.

A crowd has gathered at the corner. They must have seen NY1. They line up to give blood in total silence. We are soon sent away. There is no need for more blood.

Doctors and nurses and stretchers fill 7th Avenue outside St. Vincents. An eerie silence in spite of the mass movement of people. No casualties come. Nobody pulled out. They wait. But its only injuries of the rescue workers. No rescue.

A clear blue sky.

Something is burning. A smell like melted plastic.

I call Terrence several times until I get through. His brother answers and tells me he's already gone to work - he was on a subway downtown. I say I am ok, I hadn't been downtown yet and to ask him to call me when he gets home. I don't hear from him for another two days - he never gets the message. The lines are impossible to get through. For the first two nights, we both think the other is lost.

I email Bavie. She comes immediately over from the photography studio at the Pier just 5 blocks away. It will become the morgue for the next few months.

We hug.

Donna checks in. Frey checks in. Maureen. We all want to know: did we lose anyone?

A fighter jet flies over in a clear blue sky.

We go to Dag's on 21st to get food, hardly talking. 8th avenue is deserted; A ghost town. We watch a Bollywood movie and eat pasta. A lot of pasta. And cake. I make a bed for her. We sleep. Fitful sleep.

Everyone brings food, blankets, money to the cop shop on my block. City folks bring hot food to the firemen. Volunteers come and assemble at the pier. The news is always on.

I can't understand. A total belief in something bigger than myself replaces despair.

A lot of sleep. New threats. Fighter jets and helicopters overhead. Photos everywhere. Union Square Park candlelight vigil and photos. The sweet and acrid smell ever present in lower Manhattan, where I live.

The entire seminary checks in online. We organise.

Exaggerated startle response. Make an escape plan to walk to Donna's in the Bronx. Get emergency numbers of friends into phone. Map out the route to the Canadian consulate.

Turn off the television. One hour of news a day.

Get on with life.

Days pass like a dream.

Images. Fear. Sleep. Anger. And love. Outpouring. Faith. Take care of yourself, take care of your neighbour. Watch everywhere and everyone. And a clear blue sky above.

These are the things that I remember.


~d said...

Damn. You were in NYC. We spent several days trying to track down a friend of ours. He said from his window (well, he could see all too well).
I wasn't in NYC. My memories are slightly different. The raw emotion is equivalent.

Serena Joy said...

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be in New York on that day.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Such a tragic day. Your memories of it are similar to mine, but much different because you were in NYC. However, our memories begin the same way: with a telephone call. And I turned on my TV just before the second plane struck. That’s pretty much where I remained—in shock—for hours.

Art said...

Amazing, Pink. I can only imagine your feelings being so close compared to those of us who were hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Jen said...

it's been 6 years....


captain corky said...

What a very sad day.

Anonymous said...

tribute, pinks


Lynn said...


Ruela said...

Face of the terror.

Pink said...

Thanks everyone for witnessing.

This is the first time I've written about the day. For some reason, this year I felt ok to do it. Maybe because the date passed nearly unnoticed here in London.

Last year, all the press and re-living of the events, footage of some gruesome moments really upset me.

I still refuse to look at images of the day...and that is why there are no images posted here. I have enough of them in my mind to last a lifetime.

I consider myself so very very fortunate to have been unharmed and to be able to say that most of my friends were unharmed as well.

Of course, the trauma is still there. A fighter jet or a helicopter still evokes a certain response in me.

I also feel blessed to have been there during those months. I'm not sure my health won't suffer now that we know that the EPA lied about the dangerous levels of toxins in the air. But, I witnessed a beauty in people and I was part of a city that stood together against evil.

Many things happened that brought new evil into the hearts of Americans but I witnessed millions forming a community of love, hope and gratitude. And I witnessed a leader in Guiliani despite the fact I had problems with his politics.

I will ever be grateful to police, firemen and emergency services as well as to the national guard. I'm a bit afraid of the powers of Homeland Security, however.

I really believe we need to hold on to the good and not allow fear to create a police state - either here in the UK or in America.

There has always been good and evil and I suspect they will always stay in balance. But, I was so blessed to witness such goodness in humanity, within the rubble.

This is a day when I remember the victims (both dead and traumatised) but it is also a day when I remember the heros - both sung and unsung.


barman said...

Thank you...

For something that occurred so far away (I am in Michigan) and for not knowing anyone who died on that day I can not believe how deeply I was affected.

I first heard of something going on on the radio station I was listening to. I still had no clue what it was. I went to CNN on the net and tried to see what was going on and really still did not know although it sounded like a plane crash. So I went out to view a TV and just shortly after that the second plane hit. Of course I had no idea it was a second plane.

I avoided the whole donate blood deal. I thought blood only lasts so long and there were a lot of people donating. I would wait for and see if more was needed or some other disaster came up. Instead I simply donated to the Red Cross. It did not feel like near enough but what can you do. Not everyone could come and try and help out.

I watched way to much news for the next few days and during all of it I got the feeling that it was a movie. It all did not seem real. At the same time I did not feel real. Have you ever taken cold medicine and got the feeling that you were numb or really were not there. That was me for about a month. Church helped some and I was glad for that.

Well that is a quick glimpse of what it was like from my end. In a lot of ways the same thing you went through, in may ways different. It is amazing how small this world really is.

Once again thanks, this really was wonderful to read.

Laurie said...

Thinking of you.


Pink said...

Hey Barman- welcome and thanks for sharing your story. I do think we all had similar experiences and it still creates a world community today.

Pink said...

Laurie - xx

~d said...

We watched (vids) on last night. I felt that I (kind of) should in remembrance. Or something.

k said...


Pink said...

~d - whatever makes you feel better. xx

k- welcome. xx


Corn Dog said...

Thank you. That was a very moving and powerful post. Very sad.

Shirin M Tejani said...

Yeah, I've noticed that NOBODY who was in NY on that day wants to talk about it. I've always wondered why. I guess I'm beginning to understand...

Hoe you're feeling better after seeing the words you're thinking. And also feeling better physically.

Pink said...

I'm glad it moved you, Corn Doggie. It moved me too when I read it aloud. It is just how it was.

Yes, Sad.

I can't speak for everyone but maybe speaking about something so traumatic is really reliving it. And nobody really wants to retraumatise themselves. When people are ready, maybe they will talk about it. And maybe they won't. And that's ok.

Ur-spo said...

I stop by regularly, hoping to see you posting.
I was delighted you did; saddened to see the contents though. Nevertheless it was a lovely entry.

I hope you will post again - soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tans!
I had tears in my eyes as i read your post about 9/11. I'll never forget that day! Neither the stench in the air that I remember, stench of death. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for being in NY with me on that day. I was not alone. With love, B.

Pink said...

B- You're always an integral part of that experience for me. I'm glad we were together.