Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," recording a navel gaze on the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers. The tragedy happened well before I began writing "The Gods Are Bored" -- just about the time when the Old Ones began a gentle tug on my soul.
First, the politics. I am one of those people who think we ought to examine this tragedy with a touch of hubris. Why did this happen in the first place? I ponder. One thing I believe to be absolutely true. The terrorists won. Our economy was already on the brink of a downward curve, and 9/11 just pushed things over the edge. You can feel differently if you like, but anyone with a drop of Scottish blood will tell you that a few determined warriors can plunge a mighty nation into bankruptcy.
Just an opinion. Opinions are entitlements.
On September 11, 2002, I was working at the job I loved -- writing -- at home, sitting just where I am now. In those days I had recently completed a long gig for ESPN. I had a t.v. on my desk, all hooked up to the cable. Mr. Johnson called me on the phone and told me to turn the t.v. on. When I did, one tower was already in flames, and the second plane was just tearing into the other one. Honestly, dear readers, my jaw dropped. Literally.
I watched the horror unfold, and then the little Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder said, "Get back to work!"
Just at that moment, the announcers said another plane had crashed in "rural southern Pennsylvania." That's where my farm is.
So I watched on, in ever-increasing horror, until the shock turned to rage. I turned the t.v. off and went back to my mundane reference book work. Damn if I was going to let terrorists keep me from earning a wage!
Of course I couldn't work. I was too horrified. And then it was time to go pick up The Spare from school.
The Spare was in second grade. Chances are she is one of the youngest Americans who will actually remember 9/11.
The elementary school was within an easy walking distance of Chateau Johnson. Almost every day a crowd of moms would be gathered in front of the school, waiting for dismissal. (I never let Spare walk home alone until she was in Middle School.) On this day there were easily ten times the usual number of parents on the lawn. One of them was weeping. Her brother-in-law had been on the 80th floor -- his first visit ever to the World Trade Center.
When the bell rang, I witnessed something I'll never forget. The kids came charging out as usual. They hadn't been told about the tragedy. But we parents knew. We rushed our children, grabbed them and held them tight. Rare was the child who didn't have a parent, or aunt, or older sibling, crushing his ribs.
I held onto the Spare for dear life. It turned out that her teacher had been called from the classroom. The teacher's daughter had been scheduled to take one of those flights and hadn't made it to the airport on time. Of all the classes in the school, Spare's was the only one that had an inkling it hadn't been an ordinary day.
Spare remembers. She remembers me telling her to go upstairs and not watch any channel but Nickelodeon. But when she turned on my upstairs t.v., of course it came onto the news channel, and she never switched.
Heir was in sixth grade. Her school had an assembly. The principal told them what was happening. She came home with a million questions.
The rest of the day is a blur. What chiefly stands out for me was seeing this horror unfold, stubbornly and angrily returning to work (Appalachian trait), and then grabbing my little one for dear life (human trait).
There are crazy people out in the world. Real psychos, who cling to any religious fervor that feeds their inner demons. Beware of these people. They come from every praise and worship team known to humankind. We never know when they will go over the tipping point and start blowing stuff up.
When a place like Norway isn't safe from terror, why should America not stand on guard against every lunatic fringe?