TEN YEARS AFTER
Murry Frymer The Co-Founder of this website
wrote about his visceral feelings
trying to cope with 9/11.
First Published in 2001.
Sitting in the Dark By MURRY FRYMER
I HAVE HAD few periods of my life like this. It's unnerving. Things don't reason out, no matter what kind of spin I give it. I am going to sit here quietly, sit and wait, try to understand what is happening around me. I am going to wait for the light and look at familiar things in the sunshine. I am going to get on top of this.
Mr. Bush, the chump, is now a hero to his nation. For a while he was almost comatose and now he is a hero. We will follow him anywhere, though I suspect he doesn't really know where he's going. We honk our horns and wave our flags and sing "God Bless America." I, too, would like to honk and wave and sing, but not now. Not until I figure out what is going on.
Was this a terror attack, or a lucky strike by 19 conspirators who outdid Pearl Harbor all by themselves, with no weapons of their own, with no air force and no army and no troops, only unimpeded opportunity? Did I really see two 110 story buildings cave in with thousands and thousands of people in them? I rub my eyes, but it is my brain that is foggy.
Can a rich Arab in the sands of Afghanistan who hates rich Americans in the towers of New York really conceive all this damage all by himself? Did he look at the TV pictures and feel pleasure, or did he weep at the horror. There were hundreds of his fellow Muslims inside those towers. Did he think: "Maybe I made a mistake?"
Late at night I sit in my living room and think about dying. When people die going about their business in offices, offices just like the ones I used to know, well, I can see them all and know their thoughts and feel their terror. Would I have run for the stairs or picked the elevator or would I have listened to the public address voice that said everything was all right and to return to work.
I can see me there. I can imagine it all happening in the middle of a joke I am telling to the receptionist. Would I have thought about dying right from the start, or would it have crept up on me, slowly, then quickly, with panic and sweat and pounding in my chest. What would I have thought?
I have heard all the blather on television as the media goes about covering the biggest story of the century, although the century is young and god-knows what lies ahead. So much talk. So much opinion. Why the hell don't they shut up? Why do I watch? But how do you turn this nightmare off?
I used to write a newspaper column and if I were still writing a newspaper column I would add yet one more opinion. Or would I have been honest and written what I am writing now, that I am going crazy in the middle of the night waiting for the sun, that I am blind and deaf and dumb and stupid and I can't figure anything out. Because if life doesn't make any more sense than this, then how the hell do you live it? What should you set out to do with your college degree when the building might come down?
I have tears in my eyes, though it is nothing specific. I have tears in my eyes much of the time and I can't focus. I have listened to all the terrible stories of mothers and brothers and weird escapes and terrible deaths and cell phone calls. I hate those pictures of the crash and I hate the TV stations for showing them over and over again. Though I watch over and over again, until I can pick out the smallest details, the black airplane wing cutting through the steel like a butter knife. I have flown in hundreds of airplanes, alone, with my wife, with my children. What does it feel like to cut through a building? At what point do you die? Do you live to see the fireball?
What in the hell has happened to reason? What is this misery all about? Who would want it like this? What is the purpose in this?
I will try to go back to sleep now. In my bedroom, I can hear the soft murmuring from my wife's dream. I feel so wretchedly inadequate, unable to protect, unable to foresee, unable to be a man and say man-ish things. I feel worn, and yet, of course I am one of the lucky ones and my world, if not my thoughts, is intact.
Well, I will figure all this out. When the sunshine reoccurs, I will feel better and know better and perhaps see some steps ahead. But Mr. Bush does not reassure me. He speaks words written for him by his literary corps, but Mr. Bush is not the leader I would choose. I would choose Winston Churchill. Where the hell are our Winston Churchills now?
I'm scared. But when the sun rises, so will I. I have to find that confidence, the confidence that seems to be missing all over the TV dial, all over New York, and in me.
©2001 by Murry Frymer. The illustration is ©2001 by Jim Hummel.