saturday night, september 10th, 2011, i sat across from dear friends, p and m, over dinner in another city. unplanned and coincidentally, we had done the same ten years earlier and spent the following morning together too. they had just begun dating and i was close friends and roommates with p, the female of the pair. m, her now husband, reminded us of how time flies and of our shared anniversary. how a decade earlier we had sat marooned in fragmented information and helplessness, the futon in the center of our living room, the only thing containing our bodies.
that old apartment drifting now, like a distant planet in another galaxy.
i thought about everything. how i had dragged that futon around with me for years. originally belonging to my brother, it started with him in oregon and eventually moved with me through apartments and breakups and replacements until finally it was left on the sidewalk in front of the last place i lived in SF. it was a back breaker. it was a thermostat. it was the site of so much, like a diary or a lake.
while the sound of the phone ringing into my pillow that morning with news of a plane going into an iconic skyline still echoes: it was early, 6:30am. she was on the other line, another old friend whose barometer for chaos and tragedy was always somewhat alarming. she had lost someone she loved only a year earlier in a plane crash.
the phone kept ringing its way out of my dream.
"we are under attack," i was barely awake and didn't understand, couldn't have understood.
p and i had only just become proud owners of a television one month earlier and maybe three channels that were in focus and audible. the news was in sync on all three, reporting in tandem the events that would define a decade, start war(s), take lives, change lives, and hurt in a profound, enduring, and universal way.
frozen in both agony and shock while we all grappled with our individual and collective fears. how the world folded like a peice of paper bringing the edges closer to strangers and family members than ever before.
i wanted to write. i could not write. i didn't know what to write. was it ok to write
i wanted to do something significant, say something honest or important. each room i was in was breathless with an insurmountable sense of emotion, the kind that is fractured into a kaleidoscope of tiny flecks of light, impossible to distinguish from your own body, or was it just dust rising through a sunlit room. as the world went to ash on a screen over and over again on the edge of another coast, i wasn't sure if i was whispering or screaming, holding on or letting go.
and i still couldn't write.
finding the way into documenting is the responsibility of a writer. sometimes we don't know when to tell, or how, or what, or to whom we can. we see, we feel, we interpret, and at best it's what we can make out of the shadows that brings our words into the light.