I had a class that Tuesday, but it was either in the afternoon or late morning. I can’t recall, but it meant I got to sleep in a little. I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, yadda yadda. I had some letters I needed to mail, probably bills, but no stamps. The hardware store a few buildings down Main Street from my house had a post office branch inside so I headed there. I had WEEI on the radio (an all sports AM station) but they weren’t talking sports. It sounded like network news, but I wasn’t in the car long enough to get the gist of anything. Everyone at the hardware store seemed kind of dazed, but it didn’t really register with me. I bought my stamps, mailed my letters, and left.
Back in the car, heading to school. The plan was to get some work done in the Systems Lab before my first class. That was when the radio got through to me. Unbelievable. The news was scattershot to say the least. At least three hijackings, but maybe more. Maybe a lot more. New York, Washington. More planes inbound? Who would be next? The White House? The Capital? Fox Hall, the UMass Lowell dorm that is the tallest building in the city? Probably not. If they were going to hit a dump like Lowell, surely they’d target the nuclear plant on North Campus.
I got to school. The commuter student lot was near empty. There was a campus police officer at the gates turning everyone away. The University of Massachusetts Lowell was closed for the day. I asked him if we were closed or were we evacuating. He said closed. I can’t remember the tone of his voice, but it was somewhere between polite and fuck off, you fat punk.
I went home, sat on the couch, and commenced to watch television for the next 12 hours or so. Flipping between the networks and the cable news channels. CNN and ABC were my usual go to’s (still are, more or less) so I spent most of my time there. I had missed the planes, but I saw the collapses. I think.
The first tower might have come down while I was in the car. The scenes were replayed so many times throughout the day that it’s hard to keep the timeline straight.
Strangely, it was the first time in my life that I was aware of being all alone and not liking it. Not at all. I called my folks at work. They didn’t answer. I called Larry at work, which I don’t think I had ever done before or since. We didn’t talk. We didn’t need to. I just needed to touch base with someone. I think I needed to get a second opinion that all of the shit was real. It was.
Eventually my parents came home and we watched and speculated together. After a while the facts began to take shape. Four planes, three buildings. Hours later they went to bed and I moved to the cellar to keep watching. The coverage was pretty much bullshit by then. Anytime a new camera angle was found we would watch it a few hundred times. Every network brought in their “experts” to explain what happened. They were all just as shell shocked as the rest of us, and I don’t imagine a single useful piece of information was shared. We started getting clues as to who did it. I started wishing we could bring them back to life so that we could kill them again. I think now that the most frustrating thing was not knowing who to direct my hate toward. Not knowing who to get revenge from.
My parents had Kennedy. Their parents had Pearl Harbor. My only hope now is that my step kids never get an event of their own.