Two years ago today, I was on a plane from Greensboro to Atlanta, and landed at around 8:40am. When I got off the plane, I went to a bookshop/cafe that I usually go to on Concourse B. There were several TVs with different networks on each. NBC’s Today Show was the only one discussing the fact that flames were pouring out of one side of one of the buildints at the WTC. Hardly anyone was paying attention to this in the cafe. It seemed odd to me.
Then I bought a bottle of water and some gum for my subway ride to my client’s location, and as I was standing in line, I saw from a distance that more networks were showing the WTC. And there appeared to be more flames than before. I though…how bizarre. How strange. What a horrible tragedy. Surely whatever it is…they thought a small plane?… will be figured out, the flames extinguished, minimal loss of life. But why all the additional flames? Why the panicked looks in the announcer’s faces?
As I paid for my water and gum, I started calling friends to tell them, co-workers in Atlanta and Greensboro. I realized that if this was indeed something more serious, I should get out of the airport. I walked quickly out of the terminal and to the train… it was only once I’d gotten there and started checking my phone’s web browser, and hearing things from others arriving from the terminal to the train, that it was all so much more serious than I’d even allowed myself to imagine.
I still have the ticket stub from that flight, and the receipt from my water and gum. How strange that I could be buying water and gum at the same moment that a second plane struck the second tower… Not significant to anyone, really, but unsettling that everywhere, all around us, little machines were tap tap tapping the time and date onto paper and cathode screens, unaware of what was happening elsewhere. I’m not sure why this fascinates me. Why I keep working it in my mind like a loose tooth. But there it is.
A few days later, a coworker told me about a project some designers were working on, just making desktop graphics or something commemorating and grieving. This is the one I made: …an overcoat of clay.
Time to go to work.
[09/11/08 Edited to add: strange that I didn’t remember I’d written a similar post a year earlier.]