On September 11th, 2001, my mother woke me up in the morning to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. 25 year old that I was, I liked to sleep in, seeing that I had probably gone to bed at around 3AM which was my norm. The jolt of her waking me up and then telling me this news was jarring to me that I went into the living room and turned on CNN. I was stunned at what I saw. I got some cereal from the kitchen and brought my bowl into the living room again, but I couldn’t eat. Then, as I watched, I saw the second plane crash into the second tower. What was happening here, I thought. And then crashes at the Pentagon.
And then everything fell down, and mass chaos ensued.
I was convinced that this was some kind of apocalypse that was taking place. My first thought of course was of my friend Peter, who had just moved to NY the day before. I wondered if he was ok.
That day, my plan was to go to downtown for some reason that I can’t remember. So, I took the bus and went downtown. Everywhere I looked, it was though Montreal was taken by stunned zombies. There were TVs set up in various gathering places like food courts and people congregated and watched the events unfold. Even store fronts were airing the news and people were outside watching the TVs. I looked at everyone – it was all so surreal and strange. No one was talking to each other – everyone was just glued to the sets. It made me want to go home and watch from the safety of my own home. I remember thinking there was this fear that Montreal would be hit with something similar as well – that New York was the first target of a great mission of sorts for all metropolises in the world. I remember hearing planes in the air flying and everyone looking upwards to see if there was something more happening. Paranoia was seeping through all of our pores, and I felt it happening in me too.
Peter ended up being alright, as he called me that evening as he was walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. I couldn’t even imagine what he had witnessed. I didn’t want to.
I remember writing and writing and writing – letting out all of my feelings about this catastrophes in notebook after notebook. I still have those books, now tucked away in a bin at my in laws place. That moment in time, like for most people, wrecked me and also smashed that naiveté that we all viewed the world with. It was gone.
Today – 10 years later – I find myself wanting to avoid any coverages on TV and yet my fingers and brain have better ideas. I watched a program which was footage taken from that moment – and I felt both repulsed and curious to rewatch. But I stopped. I couldn’t watch the whole thing.
I guess I find myself not wanting to relive but wanting to see if we as a people have learned something from this disaster. I don’t know if we have. I don’t know if we will. I think it’s human nature that we have this theoretical need for peace, when the practical need is for revenge. The pacifist blood that coarses through me hopes that the latter will prevail.