We listened to the radio at work, shocked. When the announcer said that the building had fallen we all ran to the conference room, the one with the television. Grown men blinked back tears. I choked on the lump in my throat but I wouldn’t cry because crying is silly, useless and stupid. Especially at work.
Beerchick reminded me that Blue Cross had moved from where we had worked together for 7 years. They’d moved into the WTC. I came to the SDMB and checked the New York Doper check in thread and realized our very own vix worked in the building. Margarette, Shalome, Nilda, Larry (who used to fall asleep while talking on the phone!, Gale and Gina-- two of the best supervisors I’d ever worked under, vix, Beerchick’s brother-in-law. He had called from the underground mall when the first plane hit. Martin’s a pretty shady character but, dear God, I hoped he had listened to Beerchick’s advice and gotten the fuck out. And then the second building fell. All those people. So I lost it at work. Big, gulping slobbering sobs.
It was good to get it out of my system and I was glad to be done with the over-emotionalism. And I was done with it, I told myself.
Park Slope is a lovely neighborhood. Bohemian and family oriented. Part of the neighborhood’s collective experience is visiting the firehouse. It’s an initiation of sorts for the 2 public elementary schools in my area. Every single kindergarten class has been, along with the parents. Park Slope is the coolest, we’ve got Squad 1. 9 years later my kids were still saying “Hi” to FireBob when we saw him (and the rest of them) in our local Key Food.
Five days after the buildings fell our firehouse still hadn’t reopened. Houseman came home from a community board meeting and said that apparently the first plane hit during a shift change at our Squad 1. They all left. It’s maybe 15 minutes from Park Slope to lower Manhattan, even less on a screaming fire truck.
The day after the community board meeting there were candles in front of the firehouse. People were stopping, milling about. Two women were hugging each other. So I stop too. There is a peice of paper taped on the big, fireengine red door. 15 men lost. Including FireBob. So there I stood in the middle of the street with tears streaming down my face.
Two weeks since the buildings fell. New York is beginning to settle down to normal. Or as normal as a city that is searching a pile of rubble for 6000 or so missing persons can get. Transportation is disrupted sporadically, but continuously. It’s amazing how an unattended suitcase can bring this mighty city to a standstill. I can’t get to work on Monday the 17th. There’s a bomb scare at Flatbush Ave. – a major hub of subway and the Long Island Rail Road.
I do the reverse commute. I go from the city into Long Island on the LIRR. The 8:01 out of Jamaica is always crowded. Standing room only crowded. There is a man stretched out across three seats. His sneakers are beside him and his socks are caked with clay. He’s a sort of ashen gray color all around and he’s practically comatose. No one says anything. He’s an iron worker. The iron worker’s union have been doing most of the heavy lifting in the rescue-turned-digging out mission. They’ve been doing it with no applause, acclaim or even much recognition.
On the way out I see that some of my fellow commuters have left notes all around him. “Sleep well”, “Thanks and God bless”, “You are our Strength”. So there I was, two weeks later, shedding useless, silly tears on the Hicksville LIRR platform.
I’m a native New Yorker. I love my city. It’s the best damned city in the whole world. My love for my city comes with a certain, strange housepride. The Empire State Building? Never been to the top. I don’t need to because it’s my building, see? I’ve been to the observation floor in the WTC. My friends and I cut out of school and, well, we were pretty close. We could go play in the mall, eat at the diner on the corner and take a look-see at the top. It’s our city after all. Our splendor. Our awe-inspiring architecture. It was and still is my beautiful, steel canyon city.
I haven’t been to ground zero-- or the hot zone or even the warm zone. But this didn’t stop me from asking anyone who might know about some old friends of mine.
“Border’s? How’s the bookstore?” I asked.
I was answered with a sad shake of the head, “Gone, man.”
“Century 21? How can I do my Christmas shopping without Century 21?”
“I don’t think it survived.”
“The diner on the corner? Sunglass Hut? The green-globed buildings? The church on the other corner?”
A co-worker hands me a Times Magazine. There is a spread in it-- Buildings Lost or Endangered.
No crying at work! No crying at work! I tell myself. Yeah, right.
Why is this in The Pit?
Because I want the fuckers dead. My anger has not cooled over these past almost 3 weeks. It has simmered unabated until now it is at a permenant boil. I want them dead and I want to kill them.
I’m glad my government is being rational. I’m quite proud that the U.S. didn’t immediately launch whatever it could at whoever might have done this. But if I could I would sneak into Afghanistan and personally kill OBL and every single Taliban official I could get my hands on. Here I am trying to go about my day to day living while filled to almost bursting with impotent, useless and sometimes incredibly blinding rage.