Monday, September 11, 2006

History of Dara, part 4 -- the 9/11 edition

As I've indicated in some of the prior posts, I've often kept journals in the past. I'm very inconsistent about it, though. When I was younger, in high school, I'd write almost every day for a couple of weeks, and then wouldn't write anything for months at a time. The entries got more and more sporadic when I was in college, and then law school. When I first moved up to D.C., I vowed to be more consistent about it, but it took me about a year to keep my promise. So, on September 10, 2001, I started a new journal.

I wound up ripping out my first entry, because it seemed so inconsequential in light of the next day's events.

Anyway, on September 11, 2001, this is what I wrote:

History happened today -- the plane crashes into the World Trade towers and the Pentagon.

Just heard an update -- hundreds might be dead in the Pentagon. I drove by earlier and saw it engulfed in fire and smoke. Everyone was all worried. Mom, my aunt, my siblings -- all worried and tried to reach me. But I was in court in Greenbelt this morning and barely heard anything. Just a peep before I left about a hijacked plane out of Boston. Then, when I got to court, heard about the NY attack. Never thought about the Pentagon, though, until I was getting evacuated from the courthouse.

I metro under there every day. I was even under there on my way home tonight. If I was late for work, I could have been there when it happened. Scary -- but the worst thing about it was hearing the fear in Mom's voice on the message she left. This had to be hardest on her -- being so far away and not being able to reach me.

My apartment smells like smoke. My throat and eyes are burning. I am less than ten blocks away from the Pentagon, and there still are sirens and flashing lights going back and forth.

On the news -- they're saying that this is one of the dates you'll remember forever -- like the millennium, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tienemen Square -- which I remember. Others -- the assassination of Kennedy, the space landing, and Pearl Harbor -- clearly, I don't. But the images live on and are immediately recognizable.

Hopefully, all this will make sense one day.

What I didn't write about was how Judge Mannes wanted to get through his morning Chapter 13 docket before acquiescing to the evacuation, or how after being evacuated from the federal courthouse, I had to walk down to the Metro -- about a mile, in heels -- and then sat for a long time, while officials decided whether -- and if so where -- the trains were going to run. Initially, I couldn't even catch a train back in to Virginia. So, I spent the intervening time with work friends up in Cleveland Park, watching events unfold on tv.

For a long time after that, I was scared of getting stranded at that courthouse without a car, so when I had to go out there, I always drove. But about a year later I moved even closer to the Pentagon -- now I'm only about 5 blocks away. I still metro under there every day. Most importantly, though, I still haven't been able to make sense of any of it.


Shelli said...

Thank you for sharing your experience of 9/11. I live in the Midwest, so I didn't know anyone directly affected by the tragedy. We were all affected as Americans and humans, but listening to experiences like yours, somehow makes it seem more real, like it wasn't part of our imagination.

Dara said...

Thanks for commenting, Shelli. It was a really strange, surreal experience. I was there, but still wound up watching most of it unfold on the tv -- like everyone else.

What still shocks me is how I react to the footage. Since that day, I haven't really been able to watch any of it. I had to turn off the tv last night.

mad said...

Good post, Dara.

What amazes me is how 9/11 has been commercialized and politicized. I even heard a politicial operative describe today's events as a "celebration." Maybe he meant commemoration. Maybe the pols need to have a moment of silence -- that lasts the rest of the year.

Ryane said...

Dara, I know what you mean about the footage. I don't like to re-watch it, either.

Dara said...

F'ing blogger! I typed this once before and lost it.

Mad & Ryane: What bothers me most about the footage is that it always seems like a ratings stunt. There's no real feeling behind it, just a ploy for advertising dollars.

So, instead, last night, I watched Syriana. Great flick.