September 11, 2001
Amazing writing as usual Jay. What memories and visceral feelings this blog provokes. As I read this in Ecuador, no longer living in the US, I am also reminded how different it is to feel from afar, what is happening in the States or in one's homeland. It's like you are an observer instead of a participant, yet still you are there. Thanks for your incredible writings. I so enjoy them.
Restacked, you bet! "Never forget" resonates ...
Fascinating. I think you and I discussed once our having had (very roughly) analogous experiences - as I was with then wife Claudia returning from Corsica to Rome when the Towers fell, and I was then marooned in Rome for over a week until I could get a flight home (Claudia was staying on longer).
On Sept. 11th, we were on the train and decided to stop in Nice for the evening and it was when we went to a hotel that the Frenchman behind the reception desk sobered upon seeing our passports. "You are American?" he said. "Something terrible has happened." He gestured toward the lobby, where guests were gathered around the TV. At that moment, the second tower was still standing - it came down as Claudia and I joined the group to watch.
Later that night was when I was finally able to get through to my parents in NYC at a public phone booth, on the other side of the plastic partition a man was talking agitatedly in Italian on his phone call. My father, a WWII vet, was in shock over the attack; he just couldn't get his mind around the nature of it. When I got off the phone with him I saw that Claudia was shaken up and agitated - she wouldn't tell me why until we were a full block from the phone booth. Then she explained that the man on the other side of the phone booth partition had been saying, Finally, these Americans have got what they had coming to them! Death to them all! And so on.
The other moment I want to share with you, as it was a literary one: at the airport, when after two false alarm trips days earlier (i.e. thinking planes were leaving only to learn, at Fiumicino, that they were not) I was at last flying home - as it happened, I had been reading "War and Peace" on this vacation, and was clutching my fat Oxford paperback edition as I approached Security. The guard looked at the book and then me, and with the slightest ironic smile, said "Interesting choice."
Thanks for sharing. I only knew parts of that story. Such great experiences, it always makes me envious. She does have that softening quality, just like our mother.