Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nine Eleven

I remember very well the day I woke up and rushed off to school. The train I rode from the Forest Hill station to downtown was crowded as usual. I exited at New Montgomery and made my way up to the sidewalk. That simple journey from train platform to city street was my first sign of trouble. The tide of commuters was not moving in steady waves. It was crashing into itself. There were as many people coming as there were going. When I emerged from the tunnel onto the street the sense of trouble deepened. It felt as if I were the only one still going about my usual business. I was in my first week of school in the city and was headed to class. When I arrived at the building I was turned away by a security guard, "Due to a terrorist attack." Like the others before me, I made my way back to the train and rode back home.
I passed my roommate, heading to work, as I walked up the hill to my apartment. We talked for a moment. I don't remember what was said. But I remember how it felt as he said it. I remember the always gray morning sky that hung over that part of the city, keeping the trees damp, if not dripping. I remember the sound of cars rushing by, the leaves rustling in the breeze. Those tall trunks calmly rocking back and forth. The sidewalk was littered with and stained by eucalyptus seeds. They would stick to the bottom of my shoes as I walked.
I kept trying to feel the moment. I knew whatever had happened, was big. And I wanted to be prepared to feel it and take it all in. I wanted to mourn with those in mourning. Comfort those in need of comfort. And I kept getting distracted by the weight of my backpack. The sound of the passing bus. And bits of trash blown into the weeds along the sidewalk.
When I arrived home, another roommate was standing in front of the television. And there we both stood as smoke rose and towers crumbled. It was too big for me. I was unequipped to mourn with or comfort any one. Where I expected to feel a rush of emotions swell, I instead felt an emptiness deepen within me. Over the years and a little at a time I have been able to feel a little of what I thought I would experience in that initial moment. Yet what happened that morning has never felt like my tragedy. It has always felt like theirs. I will not say I know what you have gone through. I will not say that I was there for you. I will say, I felt helpless with you, I prayed with you. I hoped for you. I hope and pray for you still.
To all my friends and loved ones in New York. And those who lost friends and loved ones in New York, I dedicate this moment.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Thank you,
Mark Elliot

1 comment:

  1. This was such a profound and beautiful memoir.
    Thank you.

    Courtney
    I Can Be Many Things

    ReplyDelete