Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘the day before 9-11 writing’

Oh to step back, past that moment in time, when freedom was much freer…and those mighty towers still cast shadows and defined the profile of that city…when tomorrows were just the days after this one, and not just so many days or weeks; some measure of time since 9/11/2001.

wtc

On September tenth, there was merely the anticipation of autumn…simply the fading of summer’s embers, but the shadows were still long.

It was about looking forward to ‘’The Series”, debating who would go the yard…and who might fall victim to a slider going 98 and dropping like a rock.

September tenth was the day before my father was born…at least 68 years earlier
something wonderful had happened on 9-11.  They were hard times to be sure, but simpler and more innocent times as well.

Since 1992, the World Trade Center was but a wondrous place that I had visited, and I had stood on the roof of one of the twin icons. Movies based in modern New York City always featured the towers in that distinctive skyline. After that September 10th, any movies that included the towers were instantly dated as “pre 9-11.”

sept11lights

On September tenth, a line in time had yet to be drawn. Like the sixth of December in 1941, the tenth was but a prelude to another day that would change our world forever and redefine our entire existence. But in 1941, our enemies were more clearly defined and not too hard to find. Indeed, I long for the simplicity that prevailed still on September the tenth of 2001…

Then, we still slept soundly at night, not yet needing to know who had stolen away our naïve sense of trust and security…our knowing that tomorrow will be just another day. Memories of scud missiles, Desert Storm, the unbreakable coalition, stealth fighters and the last “just war” with ‘Stormin’ Norman’ at the helm, were nearly fading from our immediate memories.

On September tenth, we were oblivious to upcoming new buzzwords, like Flights 11, 77, 175, and 93…There was no ground zero, no mention of a north and south tower. Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden were minor players; irritants at best…but still in the wings, not yet the epitome of evil reincarnated.  The armor worn by our existing heroes showed a little patina; their deeds were a little dusty and the tales of those heroics had not recently been retold.

It was good… to be complacent and free of drama, fresh news footage, of a running total of sorties flown, of the billions approved by congress, of bunker busting behemoth bombs, of cadaver dogs, of no more survivors…images we could never have fathomed…of a loss of certainty in the world around us.  It was a simpler time…

On September the tenth, we were bored; we were anticipating the turning of the leaves, the last good days for boating, the return of Monday night football, and of kids returning to the halls.

And perhaps we took for granted the knowing we all would be coming home at the end of the day, maybe neglecting a parting hug, the obligatory peck on the cheek. And the uttering of a simple “I love you” might have been a little hollow, a little bit routine.

We weren’t as close to our neighbors on the tenth, as quick to notice a passing stranger and to smile at one another, eager to embrace the day.  We weren’t as apt to fight back tears when the flag was unfurled and a voice bathed the crowd in the beauty of the words of Francis Scott Key.

I still loved you on the tenth, but I might not have felt compelled to say so. It just never occurred to me that once I laid my head on the pillow, it would be the last night I would close my eyes without the possibility of visions of events of that day, and those that followed, filling my weary mind…of those stark surreal images that will mark this generation from that day forward.
On the tenth, our villains were whoever had taken our parking spot… the cop who cited you for going ten over while you hurried, nearly late to work… the team that’d last defeated yours. Our villains could still be easily found among us, as petty bickering and dissent among the ranks prevailed. On that tenth of September, we weren’t as united, not
as much in need and appreciation of one another as we soon would be.

And on that morning I didn’t wake you when I’d slipped out quietly on my way to work. While you lay there sleeping, I neglected to touch your cheek, to kiss your hair and went off not knowing that I would already be missing you five minutes down the road. The day that followed gave that gift back to us, and to me.

I had never uttered the words “nine-eleven” nor imagined the sight of tear-streaked ashen faces…or the “confetti of the anti-Christ,” as countless reams of paper took leave of the stricken buildings through shattered window panes, marking the end to peaceful sleep as it came fluttering down ultimately to street level in an agonizing confusing descent, dragging our hearts down with it…a metaphor of biblical proportions left to linger in mid-air, along with the accompanying dust and smoke, long after the sight of those blazing towers had become a part of the horror there on the ground…then a part
of the ground itself…a would-be grave in wait of the coming fill.

paper
On the tenth, I was a little euphoric and foolishly feeling secure. I didn’t love as deeply or unconditionally as I soon would. Nor did I notice as readily the good in the world that still prevailed. I was more at ease, but not as good a person, friend, neighbor, brother, or son, as I soon would be. I never wanted what happened next, but I am a more complete and worthy soul because of, and more importantly, in spite of the cumulative effects of the next days of events.
You might actually say, the day after the tenth found us scattered and nearly shattered by the work of the devil himself, but we were quickly gathered once more by the need for one another as we huddled together in disbelief…bound together again by the grace of God…mercifully lifted up as one in our hour of dire need.
I miss the bliss that came along with the tenth of that September, but I like camaraderie and oneness that found the collective lot of us in the days that followed.

Matthew Lyle Landsman

Advertisements

Read Full Post »