By Debra LoGuercio
©Copyright 1999, Debra Lo Guercio, all rights reserved
So. Here we are, one year later. As I write
this column, it's Tuesday, September 10. The official date of The Day That
Changed Life As We Know It is actually tomorrow, but it is today -- Tuesday
-- that has an eerie anniversary feel to it.
I remember September 11, 2001 vividly as
a Tuesday because in my life, Tuesday is press day at the Winters Express
and everything else falls by the wayside. Nothing else matters on Tuesday.
But not last year. Before heading to the
office, with that astonishing, horrible, crushing, collapse of the World
Trade Center towers etched into my mind, I felt my spirit shattering. Somehow,
we managed to get the Express out that day, dabbing tears, brows anxiously
furrowed, the air tense with uncertainty, even though on this Tuesday, the
Express seemed comparatively trivial. Yet, it was something tangible to focus
on when the world seemed to be crumbling, and it kept me from dissolving
into a pool of despair and panic.
Over the following days, my fear and shock
evolved into rage and hatred. I hadn't truly experienced those emotions before,
and found their intensity both awesome and frightening. I wanted to hurt "them"
bad. I wanted blood. I wanted to see the skull of every al Qaeda member crushed
under the heel of American retribution. I still do. Me. The person who shoos
flies out the door rather than swatting them.
I was sure I'd been irrevocably changed.
I'd never laugh again, never smile again, never see the light side of anything,
not ever. I was right and wrong. I am different. I'm not the same person who
went to bed on September 10, 2001. But little by little, light shines through
darkness and life began to seem "normal" again, whatever that means now.
Life goes on, and it demands to be lived.
I learned to laugh again. And smile again.
I still seek the positive spin on everything. My essential nature is to be
happy and, thankfully, that hasn't changed. What's different is a chronic,
low-level sense of foreboding, like some terrible thing might happen at any
moment. It's a dark shadow that follows me and disappears the moment I turn
to confront it. It's never there. And it's always there.
As we approached the anniversary of September
11, I wondered how to express my thoughts and feelings in writing. I'm filled
with conflicting thoughts and feelings. How can I make sense of what doesn't
One day, while listening to the radio, "Bad
Moon Rising" by Credence Clearwater Revival came on, and I said out loud,
"Yes!" The odd blend of happy, catchy, clap-along-with-me music contrasted
by lyrics dripping with gloom and dread captures my feelings exactly: joyful
fatalism. If my mind had a soundtrack, that song would play in an endless
I've come to view September 11 not as an
isolated incident but part of a larger picture -- global warming, pollution,
the collapse of our economy, climate changes, worldwide poverty, energy shortages,
terrorism, corporate fraud and an impending war with Iraq. I'd like to slap
a huge bumper sticker on the world that says "Where are we going and why
are we in this handbasket?"
When you look at the whole picture, the human
race seems compelled to annihilate itself. We've become collectively suicidal,
and as long as we're going down, we're taking the planet with us. We'll destroy
ourselves and everything else too. We're headed for extinction, to become
merely another layer of petroleum in the earth for future beings to fight
over a billion years from now. On the grand scale, I've lost hope in us.
On the small scale, daily life is still beautiful
and precious. Flowers still bloom. Puppies still wiggle. Babies still gurgle
with laughter. People still hold hands and kiss when no one's looking, and
sometimes when they are. Little kids are still hitting home runs, French fries
still taste wonderful dripping in catsup and chocolate chip cookies baking
in the oven smell as heavenly as ever.
I'm not wealthy, but I manage to pay my bills
and have enough left over to have a little fun now and then. My children are
beautiful and healthy, and we love each other deeply. I don't have the greatest
job in the world, but it's certainly not the worst. I keep showing up every
day, so it ain't all that bad. I don't have cancer, there are still birds
outside my kitchen window and best of all, despite everything going on in
the world, I keep waking up every morning. That simple fact both astonishes
and delights me, now more than ever.
Despite it all, I still feel happy. I know,
intellectually, that the world seems precariously poised on an abyss of doom.
But as long as the world around me is still here, and the people I love are
still here, and life still seems wonderful and worth living, I might as well
just dance to the music. I'll feel happy, even if I can't think happy. I'll
enjoy life while I can. I can't control what goes on in the world, I can only
control how I live each day through my own choices. And I choose to dance
as long as the music lasts.
Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow, well...
you know. That's how September 11 affected me: each day, each moment, is a
precious gift. Every smile, every hug, every sunrise, every cool evening breeze
is a blessing. I'll never take them for granted again.
"I see a bad moon rising. I know the end
is comin' soon..."
Shall we dance?