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yeah. i have a 9/11 story, too.
it involves a frantic 7 am phone call from dallas from the mother of the boy i love.
“are you watching it? the tv--are you watching? it collapsed. the world trade center tower collapsed. have you heard from him? he’s alright, though, right? you think he’s ok?”
the phone call startled me into wide awake and stumbling and standing three feet away from the set, shaking and mouth open and forgetting the phone in my hand and not hearing her anymore. and seeing the south tower in a heap of smoke and hearing a lot of voices on the tv saying “oh god oh god oh god.” and people running through unrecognizable ny streets like phantoms covered with ash. and thinking “this isn’t real this can’t be real” and realizing the mother on the other end of the phone didn't know that her son worked a block away from the world trade center and should have been walking to work at that time. but not telling her that, just finally finding a calm voice from i-don’t-know-where to breath out: “no, i haven’t spoken to him. no. i don’t know. don’t worry. he lives in brooklyn. i’m sure he’s fine. oh, you’ve tried to call? ok, i’ll try too. ok. i’ll let you know right away if I hear anything. yes. right away…”
my story also involves seven hours of trying to reach him on the phone, every two minutes. no ringing. no voice mail. just seven hours of redial and the tv. seven hours of fearing the worst. feeling my world change. he had told me the night before that he was tired of being a rock star in nyc. he was going to move back to l.a. he wanted to start a life with me. seven hours of numb, automatic watching, calling, standing up, redial, sitting down, redial, watching the madness unfold, redial. what would happen now? what does this mean? will there be more? turning off the tv. hearing own heart beating too loudly. turning it on again. searching the faces in the crowds behind shell-shocked reporters to see if i might see him on the street. seeing the frightened faces of others. an endless supply of tears welling up in the corners of my eyes and rolling out the sides.
i finally got through on his cell phone. and i heard the voice of the boy i love. he had been on the subway on his way to work—the train had been stopped on the brooklyn side of the tunnel. he was fine. shaken but fine.
for that moment, my life was mine again.
but the story doesn’t really end there, does it. if it did, i’d be ashamed to mention it. after all the horrid stories i've heard, mine seems insignificant.
but that morning was an awakening. nightmarish. but necessary. in one way or another, we all lost our former lives that day...didn't we?
we were startled into wide, wide awake. how could we ever forget?