Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where I Was

Sept 11 Attack
Photo source: WBUR

The September 11 attacks were one of those events where everyone remembers where they were when they heard about it.

I was at a vendor’s conference in one of the big hotels in Boston. The day started predictably enough with lukewarm coffee and damp pastries. Everyone took their seats in the ballroom. The conference organizer got up at the microphone and told some incredibly stupid joke whose punch line was a pun on “Some Enchanted Evening.”

The presentations in the first session proceeded smoothly. When it was time for a break the organizer got up again.

“America has been attacked,” he said.

As he told us that airplanes had crashed into the World Trade Center, that one of the towers was gone, and that another plane had crashed into the Pentagon, I thought it was another joke. I waited for the punch line.

It never came.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

1 comment:

  1. The weather this morning is precisely the weather of the morning of 9/11/2001. Cool, dry, with an absolutely cloudless clear blue sky - the kind of day that only happens in September. Of course I also remember vividly where I was, but even more so today because the sky looks the same, and the air smells the same.

    It was my second day of classes in medical school. The morning air traffic from Logan to points southwest frequently goes almost directly over the Boston Medical Center campus, parallel to Albany street. As it was only my second day of classes, I had not yet learned to ignore the low, roaring jets arcing towards NY and pushing to gain altitude, so they caught my attention as I walked across the medical school quad.

    I was between classes getting coffee in the basement cafe where CNN was on the TV. Everyone was watching the news of the first plane hitting the tower when we saw the second one hit on the live feed. It became instantly clear what was happening. I felt physically ill. I had to get out of there, and so walked outside to a bench on the quad outside under the crisp blue sky, where I put my head in my hands and sobbed like I hadn't sobbed in a long time. I cried not just for the violent and massive loss of life, but for the vision I had at that moment. I saw an expansion of the police state, the curtailment of civil rights, a new war, the global reversal of expanding free markets and free societies, and a major economic downturn. The burgeoning optimism of a new Millennium had just been crushed, only nine months in.