Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lest we forget

This is the day every year when I feel like I'll never be a real New Yorker, and maybe that's okay. I still can't imagine what it was like to be here, but today provided two moments of startling cognitive dissonance.

On the cross-trainer in the fitness room, I flip through the channels on the tiny tv, and suddenly I'm listening to Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, and Tom Brokaw narrate the events of that morning. MSNBC ran its coverage from the morning of September 11, 2001, in real time, with a clock counting forward in the bottom right corner. This isn't the first time they've done this, but it's the first time I've seen it, and its impact is amazing. The horror and the loss are clear in every word that every caller and commentator say. Also moving: how quickly rampant speculation took hold. By 11am, NBC had a reporter saying that an NYFD source told him there was an explosion that must have been a bomb planted inside one of the buildings. No wonder the conspiracy theorists can't let go. I flipped back and forth from the reading of the names to the "live" coverage. I thought they were finished when I headed back upstairs to shower, only to turn on the tv in the living room and find them starting back at the beginning of the alphabet with a new set of names.

Late tonight, looking for something to watch in bed, I flip past the History Channel and then flip back to the "Wittnesses to 9/11" portion of 102 Minutes That Changed America. Nine individuals of diverse backgrounds who captured video footage in New York City on September 11, 2001, discuss the way that filming the events shaped their experience of the day. They were in a media blackout on that morning, of course, with no power and no cell service. Some cannot watch their own footage; others can't stop watching theirs. One young woman wishes she had never picked up her video camera that day, because what she saw through the lens focused her attention on a "dark place" inside her that she hadn't known was there. I think there are a lot of people who feel that way about 9/11.

My father and my husband were both flying today, and I was only a little worried. Maybe that's my NYC attitude.

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