Back To Normal

I think it’s good to think a little about where we were six months ago…yes, folks, welcome to my Six Months Since The Attacks entry. Sorry. I gots to do it.

Anyway, yes. Here’s what I did: Got woken up by Ashley at 6:30 in the morning. She told me what had happened, and I was just waking up. “What?”

“You might want to call your dad,” she said. Oh. Right. My dad. My dad who lives in New York. My dad who drives into the city every Tuesday. My dad who has breakfast every Tuesday at a place two blocks away from the WTC. Yes. Call him.

If you were trying to get in touch with someone in New York that day you know that you couldn’t get through. The sun was just up, I had just started my current job the week before, I got dressed and put my phone in the pocket of my skirt and went to Carl’s house.

He was sleeping. He didn’t understand when I told him, and he didn’t understand when I said I needed him to come to my house to wait with me while I tried to get in touch with my dad.

Well, again, if you were doing this, you know it was hours before the phones got through. I didn’t watch the news reports…I don’t have a TV, and so I haven’t even seen the images of the towers falling. I’ve heard about them, of course, but I haven’t actually seen them. I’m fine with that. I just sat on the futon and tried to get my dad, tried to get my dad. My mom was trying too. Everyone was trying to call New York.

Well, thankfully, this is not a certain type of entry, and so I’m happy to say that my mom did finally get in touch with one of my New York cousins and we found out that Dad was fine. He had heard the news on the radio as he was driving in and turned right around. The fact that he was driving in at that hour instead of four hours later is one of those weird stories that a lot of people were telling for a while…like, he was made late by an annoyance, and so he didn’t go in and have breakfast where he always does, and so he’s alive. I didn’t actually talk to him until the next day because of the phones. He was fine.

I went into work about five hours late. I did some work. My boss had sent me an email wishing me peace when I emailed her to tell her I would be late. I found out that the next day she started making plans to do a project gauging people’s reactions.

Like most people who weren’t there, I felt that sort of horrible unreality…I can’t decide if it was exacerbated or ameliorated by my lack of TV. I just sat there at the computer, reading Salon and not really thinking about anything. The next day…the next couple of weeks…was very similar. We started work on this project, and all day I would proofread this questionnaire that had questions like “I feel numb,” “I feel like nothing will ever be the same again.” “I can’t concentrate.” I went to some memorial stuff. I gave to the Red Cross. The war started. Stuff got back to normal.

I still don’t know what to think or say or feel about the war. I read about it but still don’t really understand it, and I can’t decide if that’s on purpose. I wish it would end. I wish the war on terror would stop, and that al Qaeda would be brought to justice, and that Afghanistan could be rebuilt. I feel awful about the possibility of a permanent state of war. I still feel kind of scared about that.

A couple of weeks later, I was still feeling vaguely freaked out (it was during the anthrax letters) and I finally asked my boss if this was bothering her at all. Now, you all know that I don’t like my job and have a hard time with my boss. But this is what she said:

“You in this country have not been living in the real world. You have lived a dream of sports stars and movie stars and you think this is life. It’s not. This is the real world, and you have no preparation to deal with it.”

And I think she’s right. One of the reasons I think she’s right is because I feel so distant from the whole thing now…I’ve dealt with the shock and horror by “getting back to normal,” to going on with my life. That’s not bad, I don’t think, but I do think it’s a little immature. The truth is that out way of being normal doesn’t work, and maybe never worked, and I need to face that instead of hiding from it. I don’t know how to face it though…I don’t whether to make changes in my private life or to be more involved politically or what. Normal is safe and predictable and I like it very much…yet in some ways it belies the events of September 11, and the events that led up to it, and those that have followed it.

So that’s all I have to say. I want to leave you with two links I have found germane:

For Thou Art With Us. Sars of Tomato Nation has written an amazing first hand account about what it was to be there that morning. If you have a little scab on that place in you that felt numb and couldn’t believe it was happening, this essay will rip it right off.

This group is pretty radical in its desire for peace at home and in Afghanistan. I’m honestly moved.

This is a little bit of a sad entry…I feel sad that this is all I can write about it. I hope you have had the chance to tell someone you love that you love them today, and I hope everyone who has been affected, directly or indirectly, by the horrors of terrorism, gets some sleep tonight.

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