Saturday, September 09, 2006

Five years later.

We had just moved into the new house (which is now the old house) -- we'd only been there for about 3 weeks. We didn't really have any friends there yet. We knew the neighbors a little bit, but not well. Mr. WG was driving back to our former city twice a week for work, Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving at the crack of dawn.

It was Tuesday, of course.

I was still in bed with Z. and S. D. wasn't even a thought in my head yet. We were all awake, but I was pretending I was asleep in the desperate hope that my daughters would follow suit. The phone rang, and I couldn't understand who could possibly call at 7 in the morning.

It was T., my amazing friend T. "Somebody crashed a plane into the World Trade Center," she said, and I sat up in bed. "What?" She repeated those same nonsensical words and added more explanation. I leaped out of the bed and ran to the television. I remember that I was half naked -- I just don't remember if I was wearing a shirt or pants, but I distinctly remember that I was not wearing both. I turned on the TV and T. and I sat on the phone a few more minutes, and then we hung up and I stared at the screen.

Mr. WG called from the road -- he was listening to the radio descriptions.

I must have fed the girls at some point. We were having our kitchen redone, and the workers came in at some point, and they stood and watched with me. I called my father and asked if he had heard from my sister. He said no. I said, "You know why I'm asking, right?" He said, "Well, I think the United States government should announce that it's unsafe to travel to America."

"Um, OK," I said.

"Because they always say that about Israel," he said.

"Right, I get it. So, maybe you want to call your other daughter?"

"Yeah, maybe after I shower, I'll do that."

Dollars to doughnuts he doesn't remember that conversation. Those first hours -- none of us really understood anything. In fact, when I watched the towers fall to the ground on telelvision, it was months, literally, months, before my brain would allow me to process the fact that there were people inside as they fell.

I saw the reports of the firefighters and the rescue workers racing towards the flames. But for me, that's not the image of courage I associate with that day. I mean, I think that when you choose to be a firefighter or a rescue worker, that's certainly an honorable, courageous choice, but on a day like that Tuesday, I think it's all about training. It's not so much about bravery at that point -- it's doing your job, it's doing what you've trained and drilled and practiced. It's relying on muscle memory.

The moment I associate with courage on that day was a small group of senators or congresspeople or both, standing on the steps of the Capitol, singing God Bless America at the end of the day. To me, that was a giant leap of faith.

I remember watching CNN and seeing people looking for family members, begging camera people for time. Even the anchorwoman -- Judy Woodruff, maybe? -- said there had to be a better way, in the 21st century, for people to find their loved ones.

Yitgadal v'yitkadash.