I feel embarrassed every time I talk about what it was like that day. I know it is a non-story. Uninteresting. Unimportant.
Yet every once in a while, I find myself speaking of it, embarrassment overcome by compulsion. So it was today. I remembered it was September 11th, and instinctively switched on the radio to make sure that no new corner of the world was burning. Then the memories came, so strong I missed my turning and tasted bitterness in my mouth.
I remember sitting with those who had loved ones in the air,
worrying, wondering, waiting.
I remember the way the tower shimmered before it fell,
beautiful, terrible, incomprehensible.
I remember the sudden intake of breath as we sat on the convent roof
and heard a plane overhead when all were grounded;
the vulnerability of the city exposed.
Most sharply of all, I remember the stretching and folding of time as I drove home. The highway barren, save for a few erratic drivers going 80, then 40; not meaning to have changed speed at all. We none of us should have been driving — confused and distracted, the concept of safety lost.
Somewhere along the line I found myself riding with a grey volvo, holding steady at 60. I’m not sure who started it, or how we knew, but we began to take turns leading. One of us would set the pace so that the other rest in the illusion of a stable environment. When concentration wavered, we would swap; leading, following, remembering, forging ahead.
We played leap frog all the way to Hartford, then waved goodbye as I peeled off on I-91.
It is a non-story, uninteresting and unimportant. But it is also the truth of that day:
two strangers meeting in silence, learning to work together in order to survive.
requiem aeternam dona eis, domine