I still have not seen a video of the towers falling. But I started reading commentary about it this past year.
I have never stopped thinking about the people jumping from the towers. Maybe because after the second plane hit, my brain couldn’t comprehend anything really, it was all abstract and unreal. But when my coworker told me “People are jumping from the building!” that’s when I understood it was real. And I followed her to go see.
In the recovery group we could tell where each person was that day by whether we said jumping or falling. I read in some comments section that the people who jumped were not choosing death, they were choosing life. Maybe this has been said a million times over the last two decades. But like I said, I am 20 years late to the commentary. The person said those people knew they were about to die by fire, so they chose to live a few more minutes being able to breathe, falling through the sky. Even holding hands.
Those images of people mid air look so different to me now. It resonates with me that the idea of choosing life looks a lot like taking a terrible path. We can only choose from what is available. And we have to be alive to make the best choice we can under any given circumstances.
When I crouched to hide myself from the downpour of debris, it was difficult to get myself to move. I felt frozen. And I realized suffocation was inevitable. But I didn’t want my death to be painful so I moved.
When I climbed out a broken window I didn’t know where I would go. It’s hard to say if I was looking for anything beyond a breath of air to breathe. Is climbing out the window to avoid suffocation the same as climbing out a window to get some air? I would have done anything to avoid suffocation. I’m so lucky I was on the ground.
This morning I took my son to the doctor in Medford, MA. Requests to schedule something so mundane on 9/11 still jar me, but I know people are moving on so I try to as well. I slept in my clothes so it would be easier to get out of the apartment on time without obsessing about the date.
I left my son in the waiting room and walked to to 7 Eleven to get coffee and I saw a line of five flashing firetrucks. Lots of people saw the trucks, but only I stopped. I asked people what’s happening and they all shrugged as they walked on by.
I walked closer, stepping in front of moving cars. Then I realized it was a moment of silence at 8:46 when the first plane hit. I stood too, til 9:03. Then I said to a fireman, “I was at the World Trade Center. This is a really nice gesture.”
He looked at me and said, “You were there?”
It occurs to me that the videos must be full of people looking Wall Street well dressed. Now I’m a lot older. There’s not much of a difference between clothes I sleep in and clothes I work in. But I’m still a person who wants to know what’s going on.
It’s comforting to know that after all these years, at least one thing about me has not changed.