I’d been queasy all afternoon, but on the evening of September 10, 2001 I managed to drag myself out to the ballpark and go 4-for-4 in the last game of the CMF&Z Voodoo Bats’ coed slow-pitch softball season. I was still nauseous the next morning, so I called in sick and planned to rest at home all day.
And I would have, except that Love and Theft, Bob Dylan’s first album of new songs in four years, was being released that day. I drove to Target in West Des Moines to be the first on my block to own it—and as I walked through the electronics section, past the wall of TVs, I saw smoke coming out of the World Trade Center.
A plane had crashed into the building, they said.
That seemed impossible and ridiculous. Was it some idiot who lost control of his small twin-engine? They surely didn’t run flight patterns over the WTC, did they? And even if they did, the odds against a plane going down into such a major landmark had to be astronomical.
I was back home before I heard the real story. Hijackers. Terrorists. And then the truly unbelievable announcement that the first tower had collapsed.
I remember thinking they were mistaken. They said collapsed but they couldn’t have meant collapsed.
But there was the footage. It reminded me of when we used to crush pop cans by standing on them and poking the opposite sides at the same time.
I thought of the people inside, going about their business, feeling safe, never dreaming of any horror such as this. Whoever would have listed “Fear of an airplane being deliberately flown into my building” among his list of fears?
I thought of the people working on the floor the first plane hit, looking out the window at the nose of a jet getting larger and larger. I thought of the people on the jet, in utter shock that this was how it was going to end. I thought of the fanatic at the controls—the superstitious hateful fanatic—and wished there were a hell where he could be told: You were wrong.
The horror has diminished for me: I knew no one in New York at the time, suffered no anguish waiting on a call from a loved one. The horror has diminished but the sense of outrage lives on, and so with nothing political to say in this post I’ll just add my voice to those remembering the victims of September 11.