When I woke up that autumn morning and leaned across my mattress to slap my radio to life, I expected the monotonous predictability of 1010WINS. Instead, shrill and raucous voices flew into my quiet studio apartment. I must have left the radio on my other favorite station, Hot97. Bleary eyed, I fiddled with the dial, but I couldn’t find the calm measured rhythm of my morning news, so I just turned the thing off and stumbled over to the shower.
Only later, more awake, did I realize that every station was loud, chaotic, emotional. A plane had just flown into the World Trade Center.
What did it mean? Was this the beginning of the end? The apocalypse? Nuclear warfare? World War Three? Where does one go when an entire world may or may not be going up in flames? No one was saying what to do. No one could confirm what would happen next.
I went to college. As I walked across Brooklyn, I watched papers twist like doves against the azure sky. Outside of campus, the sidewalks were packed with students streaming out, home. I made my way inside, found a group of people gathered around a television, and watched the grey clouds, thick with death, billow out of the towers.
The terror in the newscasters’ voices stayed with me. There was no safety in the world. The men and women who every morning laid out the worst global atrocities in confident singsong, could be scared. We all could be scared and there were no grownups to reassure us.
There was no God to explain it all, no neat cause and effect to understand why this happened, why these people died, what might happen next. Everything was unknown, stripped of the predictability of routine, to reveal the terrifying chaos of life that roars beneath the surface and on that day, we could not fool ourselves that we were in control.Printable Version