I was here on 9/11 and stood speechless, watching as a plane flew into the second Twin Tower and knew that, that morning, my mother – a flight attendant – was about to take off from Newark at 8:45 a.m. and for the hour or more that they did not know the plane’s identity, all I could think about was my mother who I love and who I’ve been such a pain in the ass too, flying into this building and dying this way. What I know is that no matter, it was someone’s mother, daughter, father, lover, brother, husband, son. It was someone’s somebody and that was enough to make me drop to my knees and cry. It was enough for the nation to drop to its knees and weep and we did. Should it come as any surprise then that the so-called “rules of engagement” have then changed? That instead of people turning toward each other as I would have expected – lovers becoming closer and the like, and we did see some of that, I agree, for the most part, the statistics bear out that the rates of infidelity actually rose sharply after 9/11, particularly among office affairs, people who work together, which is where most affairs start anyway, but the rates actually increased.
I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it and I don’t think I want to. It sickens me. Was it, Oh Brad, tomorrow we could die in a fiery inferno, so let’s do it now? or some other line that cheapened and dirtied what had really happened to this country and to those people. Those after 9/11 infidelities that only tore away at the fabric of our country all the more and broke up so many families, showing the terrorists, if they cared to read, that after all, we Americans for all of our togetherness and talk, were actually quite weak in this way. That we took out our grief by fucking and by fucking over those we said we loved the most because now, now we loved Chloe the office-girl from _____ (insert exotic place here) because we were so fucking afraid of dying, because they said, we realized we could die at any moment so it somehow validated our infidelity and actions against the nuclear family and the promises we had made and were breaking. We were, at last, within our rights to run off with some chick named “Monsoon” (as happens in Riding In Cars With Boys) because it was war, damn it, and war somehow equated with this bullshit.
All of this knowledge haunts me and it is hard for me to see the beauty in humanity, let alone the world as a whole because I am too damn busy worrying, as so many Gen Xers feared all along, that it would all come down to some awful nuclear holocaust and here we are, vulnerable because of our power plants and nuclear weapons and, once again, we are seeing our families break up just like when we were kids, only this time, it’s our own lover as noted above. We were right and, Christ, I wish we had been wrong. I think none of us wanted to be right about these things. So if there was ever a time to become a drug addict or drop out like Kaysen or hang around an institution and have some order put back into your life, some regimen and some semblance of normalcy. Yes, now, dear, is the time to schedule your breakdown.
The appeal of Wurtzel’s Florida life is undeniable. Perhaps the drugs aren’t such a great idea but even here she makes them sound appealing almost to the point where I would say this is a dangerous book to read because, though the end is a wake up call, the rest of the book is one big love story between a girl and her Ritalin.
For a moment, I even wondered what it would be like for me, whom Ritalin has never gotten high, to grind it up and snort it. What would happen then? Would I “meet Jesus”? Would all this war and this social awfulness fade away? Yes, I would hide out with my grandmother in Florida but I figured, even on drugs, I could take care of her just fine, especially on Ritalin since she has so many errands that need running and so much taking care of since she’s been ill that I’d be like a machine and finally, finally, my life would have meaning – I’d be taking care of someone and that would mean everything, and while yes, in the process I’d be killing myself…. Oh, right.