Chris (conjurdude) wrote,

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the obligatory 9/11 post

Yes, it's technically only 9/10 here, but in the interest of getting this done and over with, as one might pull a bandage off a particularly hirsute portion of one's anatomy, I'm doing it now while the booze has desensitized me.

On 11 September, 2001, I was rooming with He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-In-A-Public-Forum-Lest-He-Get-All-Pissy in Chicago. I woke up on that Tuesday to go to class (a rarity at that point, as I was already in the throes of not giving a shit about anything, thanks to my parents divorcing) and as I got ready for school, I heard a plane had hit one of the WTC towers in New York. I figured, having read all sorts of "Ripley's Believe it Or Not" books growing up that it was an incident similar to the small single engine plane that hit the Empire State Building way back when.

When I got to the Theatre department at Loyola, we discussed it briefly, and then muddled through Theatre History class, if memory serves. I remember hearing about the second plane hitting and thinking, as so many others did that day, that this was no accident. I went into the stairwell, hopped out the window, and had a smoke with a few of my classmates on the roof of the stepped Skyscraper (now Mundelein) Building. We noted the lack of planes in the sky over Chicago at that point. We learned later that all air traffic had been grounded. We learned later how much things had changed on that morning.

I had rehearsal that night for "The Three Sisters," by Chekhov. I was determined, for reasons I still don't know, to lead the cast in a Mourner's Kaddish in the Green Room. I was certain that we'd be acknowledging what happened during rehearsal, and I wanted to do what little I could to act as psychopomp, I guess, to all those lives snuffed out in an act that we would still take weeks to understand. I'm not Jewish, though I'd been deemed an honorary Jew by several Jewish friends, and thus, it seemed, it fell to me to stumble through the Kaddish in my best spur-of-the-moment Hebrew. I read it in Hebrew, then in English. We all daven-ed, or prayed, or took our moment of reflection, or just sat there, humoring all the others. We were all too young, even in college, to know just how much things had shifted.

And now, a decade later, we can see how things were, how things might have been, and sadly, how things became. We can see how we squandered goodwill, spurned the notion that on that day we were all Americans, and went tilting at politically expedient windmills. What should have united was used to divide and that divisiveness poisoned pretty much every facet of modern American political discourse.

And so that's my remembrance of what happened a decade ago. I wish we'd actually learned from it and changed for the better because of it. But we reacted by retreating into xenophobia and ignorance, because that's what our role model, the President of the United States did, after sitting there staring blankly at a copy of "My Pet Goat," trying to figure out where to go from there.

 Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning by The Wrights from Song Of America (Rating: 0)

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