I could tell you every detail of September 11, of what I was doing when I heard that an airliner hit the World Trade Center.
But the day after? I have to think a bit, but I can come up with it.
Mostly I remember how I felt: angry, hopeless, spilling over with grief, afraid, reactionary, prone to overstatement, given to tantrums over religious ideas that could justify murder.
If on that day I’d seen Osama bin Laden at the White Hen I would have ripped his heart out and squished it on the floor. On that day, when I closed my eyes and saw bin Laden, I saw myself coming up behind him, I saw myself massage his shoulders and neck, I saw myself gently but firmly twist his head in a full circle, three times, followed by one decisive yank; I saw myself insert my thumb in his nose and two fingers through his eyes and roll his head like a bowling ball down a rocky mountain — I heard a satisfying, hollow pop when it hit a rock.
I was writing a show at the time and we were less than two weeks out. All the speeches had to change, the humor stripped out. We needed tributes to firefighters, a moment of silence, maybe a prayer. Definitely a rewrite. I remember resenting the do-over and feeling guilty about resenting it, knowing as I did how everyone’s life had been interrupted, not just mine. I resented it anyway.
The reason I’m sharing all this personal information, including a confession to a double murder on a single victim, is hard to explain. Like an itch just out of reach, or a star you can’t see without looking away from it, or a drop of mercury you’ve been asked to pick up, I’m trying to say the unsayable. What was our aggregate feeling on September 11, 2001? How close did we come to feeling the same?
I thought we shared one heart in the days and weeks following. There was twisted metal in every soul, but there was also unity, fearlessness and unbreakable resolve. It was our finest hour.
At least that’s how it seemed to me. I’m disturbed by revelations about our president’s behavior on September 12, 2001, about his keen interest in seeing this horrible event tied to Saddam. The depth of a soul can be measured by a reasonable pair of human eyes.
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