Friday, September 11, 2009

Indelible Etchings

The sky was tropical island blue, not a hint of a cloud in the sky. I remember.

It was a Tuesday. There was a Primary Election that day and I decided that morning to vote after work. Jay-Z had an album hit stores that day. I remember.

My mom wore a pretty orange dress to work that day. She figured it would probably be the last time she could wear it before Fall hit. I remember.

I sent an email to my friends, bragging how I wasn't speaking to the dude I was dating at the time who worked at Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center. We'd had a disagreement and I was holding my ground. I remember.

A guy came in the office and said he heard a plane hit one of the buildings at the World Trade Center. We laughed, thinking someone made it up because how could a pilot not see that tall ass building in front of them. I remember.

I called my mom since she could see the towers from her office window. She confirmed that there was a fire of some sort coming out the side of one of the buildings. As we talked about what could have possibly happened and prayed it wasn't that serious, she screamed. Another plane hit another building. She saw. I remember.

Some of my friends worked nearby. While our cellphones weren't working, our 2 way pagers were. We met up on 42nd St and began the solemn walk uptown. A reporter stopped me on the street. I told her "I just want to get home to hug my family and pray that this somehow isn't real." I remember.

My friend's cousin spotted a guy driving a red Camry. He was alone. She flagged him down and asked "How far up are you going?" He said "The Bronx". She asked if we could ride with him and the five of us piled into this stranger's car. I kept looking back alll the way down the avenue to see smoke snake its way upward into the crystal blue sky. I remember.

For a city that never sleeps, the streets were eerily quiet - no horns honking, no music blaring, no heated arguments on street corners, nothing. Just people walking in silence, shell shocked. I remember.

I saw a store owner passing out bottle of water to those walking down the street. People covered in soot were ushered into clothing stores and given clothes and sneakers to change into right off the racks, no questions asked. I felt proud to be a New Yorker, that we could take care of each other in the face of tragedy, no matter what. I remember.

When I arrived home, my mom was sitting on the sofa in tears on the phone. I was relieved that she didn't have to trek alll the way from her office to Harlem on foot(for the non-New Yorkers, that's approximately 135 city blocks from her job to home, about 6 miles give or take). She'd caught the last train leaving from downtown. As I entered the living room, she informed me that it was my dad on the phone. We spoke. For the first time in a few years. He said all the things he wished he'd said five years ago. And so did I. We wept and promised to do better. I remember.

I tried calling his home. No answer. I tried calling his cell. No answer. I tried calling his mother's phone. No answer. When my phone rang, it was my bestie, Twin. I told her I was convinced he was dead, and hated being in such a silly argument. She tried to get me to keep the faith. Somewhere buried in that pile of steel, concrete, and things I'd rather not think about was where you'd find my faith. I began to mourn. I remember.

About 5:30 in the morning, my phone rang. I answered. It was him. I thought I was dreaming. Then he said something sarcastic and I knew it was him. I smiled and thanked the Lord for answering the prayer I was too chicken to speak. He survived. I remember.

I felt lucky, blessed that no one I knew directly perished that day. Until a month later, when I got the notice of a memorial service for a guy I knew(he was my New Year's Eve date, 2 years running..LOL). I flashed back to the last time I saw him. May 2001. I ran into him at a bar. We exchanged pleasantries and in passing, he mentioned a new job. I congratulated him without asking specifics. It was then, October 2001, that I found out that new job was on a very high flower in the towers with a company that lost a great deal of people that day. The Sunday after the memorial, I openly wept in church. On my knees bent down in prayer, I looked up to God and asked "Why?" out loud. I never got the answer. I remember.

All of these memories are indelibly etched in my mind and in my heart. Like my tattoos, they are a part of me and a remembrance of a time in my life. On the 8th year since the travesty, I'm reminded of all these memories. Life has marched on but that day is an indelible stain on my life's tapestry. I remember. And I always will.


Peggy said...

Perfectly written and beautifully said

This day is truly etched in my mind and heart

rashad said...

Well stated friend.

makeba said...

What a day it was????

MackDiva said...

I agree. You summed this one up perfectly. Good job, writer! :)