Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later

Everybody has their 9/11 story, here's mine. I was puttering around the house getting ready to drop my son off at daycare. I had just changed him and came back downstairs, he was in living room where our T.V. was on. I usually watch ESPN's sport center or something, but the T.V. was showing a plane crashing into the WTC. I thought my son had switched to some sci fi movie because he often played with the remote. There was no commentary at first, then the commentator said something about this was the second plane and the second tower. I switched to Fox News and watched the rest of the story unfold. I dropped my son off at daycare, much to my wife's eventual amazement and went to the Red Cross in Hartford to donate blood. There was a line halfway around the block, people were speculating about this and that as I got in line. I was there about 10 minutes when somebody from the Red Cross came out and said they had all the blood they needed and for us to check back in few days. I went to office where nothing was happening, all the markets were closed, few people were at their desks. I called into our main office down in Fairfield county and spoke with our operations manager to see what, if anything, was going on there. She was concerned because her brother worked at the WTC and no one had heard from him, several other people there had similar situation with friends and/or family members. With nothing to do at work, I went fishing which seems like an odd response today but seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. My wife called me in tears because the news was reporting explosions in Afghanistan and she thought WWIII was upon us. I reassured her that there are always explosions there and that nothing drastic would be happening immediately, she said she still wanted me home, so home I went. It was that evening that I found out that my cousin Stephen G. Hoffman was missing and had not been heard from. I called my cousin Paul, one of Stephen's older brothers and he said he didn't have a good feeling about it because even if the opportunity for escape had been presented to Stephen, he's the sort of guy who would stick around to help others. What happened we will never know for sure.
Over the next few days shock was replaced by anger, anger by rage. I remember there was supposed be this candle lighting thing where everyone observes a moment of silence and lights a candle. I thought la-ti-fucking-da, won't this show these bastards we mean business. On Friday the 14th my boss sent out a memo to everyone saying something to the effect that what America needed was for everyone to get back to work and for us to write mortgages. What an asshole! The ops manager still hadn't heard from her only brother, another loan officer hadn't heard from his college roommate and best man, Stephen was still missing and many other coworkers had similar stories. Later I would find out that other loan officer's best man worked at Cantor Fitzgerald with my cousin, he was killed too.
Over the weeks and months that followed things began to change for me. Susan Sontag's writing in the New Yorker, while never something I enjoyed, began to enrage me. Susan, is it too much to fucking ask to bury the dead before you blame them and excuse their murderers? I cancelled our subscription, which is something you might want to do too if you like the magazine because they still keep sending enticements at ever decreasing prices. I think a year's subscription at this point costs $1.37.
We went to a memorial service for my cousin in October at the church where he was an alter boy in Forrest Hills. All funerals suck, this one more than most. I remember thinking how ironic, my uncle and his wife had 13 children, 8 boys and 5 girls, none served in the military. My parents had 8 children 4 of each and 3/4 of the boys had served in the military and not a scratch on them. It also seemed ironic to me that Stephen should be killed in WTC because I always associated the WTC with him and his twin brother Gregory. Truth be told, as an adult I didn't see or speak with the Long Island Hoffmans all that much, the unavoidable separation that time and having a family of your own brings. As a kid I'd hang out with cousins at their place in Forrest Hills and go to Rockaway Playland, Rockaway and Jones Beach. They were building the WTC then and I remember the "twins" as we used to call them being all excited about the Twin Towers in their back yard.
On the way home from Stephens memorial service we got lost and my nephew got out at a fire station to ask directions. Since we were lost I have no idea where this station was, but it had about 4800 pounds of flowers in front of it. My nephew, a cop, said that the fireman who gave us directions told him they had lost over half their crew. As we drove across the Whitestone Bridge, I believe, my brother put in an Andrea Bocelli CD, the one that they used to play on the Sopranos all the time. There was still smoke visible over the southern end of Manhattan and the conspicuous absence of the towers was hard to ignore.
They say 9/11 changed everything. I'm not sure that's entirely true, but there have been many changes. It was five years ago today that I became a news junkie. Online, on T.V. even in print when absolutely necessary, I'm hooked on what's going on the world. While on vacation I find it uncomfortable to be out of touch with the world.


Dexter said...

My condolences for the loss of your cousin. I let my New Yorker subscription lapse in part because I was about 10 issues behind at any give time. While the price tag is still slightly higher than you suggest ($47 / yr or $77 for 2 yr) I still think it is a considerable baragin. Also the number of Sontag articles has declined considerably since her demise in 2004.

El Duderino said...

Thanks. I exaggerate slightly, but cancel your subscription and see how much they reduce the price of that pretentious cage liner. In truth I do miss it, but this is war and we all must make sacrifices. The number of Sontag articles has declined somewhat, but the quality has remained the same. Maybe now she can deconstruct the symbolism inherent in the fires of hell from a 21st century paleo-feminist perspective, I wonder if Satan will be amused?

Dexter said...

You should read what they said about her trip to Serbia.

Dexter said...

And in the coincidental department, A&L Daily has link about sucess of The New Yorker...