September 12, 2006 at 3:01 am (in my head, past)

I was out running. Pounding down Rt. 138, the same route as the marathon, happy not to have class until 9:50. I ran out two miles, passing the National Guard station and turned around to come back. On my return, a guardsman was out. I smiled, he didn’t. Something about him seemed off – this being New England, it couldn’t have been the fact that he didn’t smile. The song in my headphones ended and the DJ came on. “There seems to have been an explosion at the World Trade Center…it’s horrific, there are flames everywhere. I can’t explain the images we’re seeing.” And then it hit me. That guardsman was lowering the flag to half mast.

I don’t need to be bombarded with anyone else’s memories of that day. A&E documentaries about people who made miraculous escapes. Big studio movies about a few who survived. Even articles about the first post-disaster games. I have my own memories. Class being canceled. Sitting in a packed common room transfixed by the television. The summer blockbuster-like surreal quality of the second plane’s impact, played again and again on every channel. Not being able to reach anyone I knew in New York. The call that woke my mother in California, her sister-in-law saying simply, “Brian is ok.” The realization that my father had flown home only days before, on one of those LAX-bound flights out of Logan. My conversation with the Seattle Arts Commission confirming that my September 13 flight out for the conference I’d helped to organize was not going to happen. The death toll bouncing up and down from 10 to 1 to 5 thousand. The days of search and rescue turning into recovery. Jets overhead. Candlelight vigils. And the officially recognized tough guys of the world, the firefighters, the cops, the soldiers, weeping openly on national TV.

Yet I somehow found myself watching “Flight 93” on Saturday wondering who I’d call. What I’d say when I knew it was goodbye.

These days it’s the names that get to me. Somehow you don’t think it would take that long to read more than 3,000 names, but I look up many minutes later and they’re still scrolling. I keep thinking of the names that aren’t on that list but could have been. The names that mean something to me. And I wish the men and women in uniform who’ve given their lives could be afforded the same respect.

I don’t pray in the traditional sense. No lord’s prayer. No psalms. Not even some ingrained thing in Hebrew. But I do say thank you. Sometimes on a day so beautiful I want to cry. Sometimes when world events remind me how quickly I could be gone. Sometimes when I feel lost, lonely or pessimistic. I don’t know that I believe in a god omnipotent up in the heavens, but I believe in something bigger than myself. Call it nature, call it our collective humanity, call it God, Jesus, Allah or anything else. And to that force I offer up my appreciation. I start with my parents, then best friends, then anyone I’ve ever loved. And by the time I’ve gotten to those who have simply been kinder than they had to, I’ve realized a few things. If I die in the next 5 minutes, I will have lived a good life. I will have seen and done a lot. Not everything I wanted to do, mind you, but a lot. And as I run out of names I’ve realized that I am a damn lucky girl.



  1. Anonymous said,

    Wow, what an amazing post. Thank you for writing that, and allowing the internet world to read it.

  2. BS said,

    Aw shucks…thanks Anonymous.

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