Memarie Lane has a great post today about how most of us are bit players (if not Kleenex-disposable extras) in the big scheme of life. That’s why (because I agree, not because of her post) I wasn’t going to write some grandiose “Where were you?” post about September 11th. Wasn’t going to say that we were living in New York City in 2001. That we were proud of Rudy Guiliani,and also the democrats, and that we were scared when we thought there were seven planes hijacked. But we calculated that Columbia’s Low Library must be pretty low on a terrorist’s list of targets.
I wasn’t going to admit that I was excited that we got to order in (free) lunch from that deli on Broadway because we were all so upset and of course I couldn’t even think of eating at a time like that. I think I ate a spinach salad, with bacon and hard-boiled eggs, and a vinegary-sweet dressing. (This is not a comment to trivialize but to confess how my appetite is never, ever ruined. A post for another day.)
Earlier that morning my shoulder dislocated while I was using the thera-band from my physical therapist. Wasn’t the first time, or the worst time, but, oh! did I feel sorry for myself as I rode the subway to work. As I took the 1/9 to 116th and Broadway and walked through the quad at Columbia University.
Someone had a TV on in the lobby of the SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs) Building, and the rest of the day was a Kafka-like nightmare of helpless surrealism. We sat around the Economics Department with the lights half-on. We made plans to give blood, and then we heard that no blood was needed.
I wondered if Tom was okay and if I’d be able to make it home to The Bronx, if the bridges and tunnels and subways would be reopened soon. He was home with one-year-old Avery back then. Every day at four he dropped her off before going to class, and I took her home after she’d gotten lots of attention from Angela and Sharon and Leslie, and polite disinterest from Laura.
I had visited the World Trade Center for the first and only time two weeks before the attacks. My brother was visiting from Utah and wanted to see everything. I’ve got pictures of us with Avery in her MacLaren stroller. We have pictures of her, a little older, in the same stroller, in front of the photo and ribbon-festooned plywood barricades that ringed Ground Zero (and probably still do, for all I know).
I felt so stupid that day, for feeling sorry for myself about my dumb shoulder. Even stupider when reports of the bravery and desperation of the “Let’s Roll” people came out of Pennsylvania.
It was probably only weeks or days before I felt sorry for myself again, over something even dumber, like too many poopy diapers in a twenty-four hour period. Or a husband who liked to play basketball in the evenings instead of rushing home to be with us.
And then I’d remember to be glad, and immeasurably grateful, that he would be coming home at all.