Posts Tagged ‘September 11 attacks’

The Flinty Rain

anka eager

Friday night, I took Anka out for her final run out. The wind was blowing a bit, and every so often, I felt a few raindrops splash against my skin. The week had been unseasonably hot for September, but on this Friday night, the air had a chill to it. And the rain that hit me was cold and flinty.

The whole weekend was a torrential downpour, and the temperatures dropped low and autumnal.

Yes, it is about that time everyone realizes that summer is about to ease its way off the scene. Sure, there will be still be a few days where the sun beats down enough that one will wish for cool drink, a cool breeze, or a nice little rain, but the ordinance of time says that those days are more finitely numbered.

I do remember what day this is. I remember distinctly having these exact thoughts on this same date in 2001. On that day, the air was cool and crisp in the morning. The sky was as pastel blue as I have ever seen it. The leaves on campus were starting to turn, and I knew then that summer was going away.

I had just started my third week of college. I was a freshman, and I was even more unsure of myself then than I am now. My schedule on Tuesdays (and yes, that was a Tuesday) was to be in class almost the entire morning.

I walked from my first class, which was my American government class, to my psychology class, and I let my mind roll around in the reverie of a what could turn into a lovely September day. I watched the robins on the campus lawn, and I made note of the lazy city squirrels that loped around without any fear in them.

When I made to my psychology class, one of my classmates said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought it was just a little private plane that some idiot had accidentally flown into a building.

It was beyond my comprehension that anyone would use commercial planes to act as weapons of mass murder. I had come of age in the roaring 90s. Those were the days of the great tech bubble, but at the time, it felt like the good times would go on forever. Clintonian technocracy had solved the problems of the world, and the election of George W. Bush was an anomaly, a simple accident of the electoral college. All would be made right soon enough, and the world would make sense again.

Every single one of those delusions was crushed on that day.  George W. Bush would use those terror attacks to recast himself as a war time president, and even the most mild of Democrats would be harangued as “soft on terror,” just for offering the softest critiques. Bush would lead us into the mess of Mesopotamia, and then he would be re-elected, foul up the response to Hurricane Katrina. And the sugar high of his tax cuts couldn’t put a band-aid on the casino economy that eventually came crashing to reality.

And so my summer ended with those terrorist attacks, and for the first time in my life, I began to think about my country differently. I became disillusioned by most of it, and I still pretty much am.

I also remember on this day that the plane that hit the Pentagon flew a course right over my college.  I bet if I looked up into that clear sky, I would see the jet trail pasting a white line in the blue sky.  I would see only the banality of airplanes in the bright sky, and I would think nothing of it. I would not know of the murder coursing the sky above me.

The sky above is like a dome covering us from the seeming infinity of the Cosmos.  It is a shelter that gives humanity a veil from which to hide from the stark realities of being so profoundly alone on this planet.

We don’t expect death to come sailing down upon us from the sky, especially in this country with it nuclear weapons and technically-advanced military.

But this time it did. This time we were vulnerable. This time we were scared, terrified, and bewildered.

And on that day, my 18-year-old brain was struggling to come to terms with it all.

So the past weekend was the falling of the flinty rain and not the clear skies of 2001, but the coolness of the air puts me in the right mind to wonder and mourn and take stock of what is to come and what has truly happened since then.

My life will be forever measured on 9/11s.  It is a date more profound for me than my own birthday, for even though I lost no one on those attacks, I feel that I did lose something, my own sense of invincibility.

And I also lost my sense that the world had been figured out by those in power. The next 7 years would prove to me that no one power really knew how to fix or manage anything. They were either too incompetent or too corrupted to do so.

I tried my hand at being politically active, and I still am in my own way. But the deep disillusionment meant that I would turn to animals and nature as my opiate to ease my suffering a bit. That’s why I have a blog like this one, and I don’t have my soap box blog, where I tell you how I would like the country run.

I’d rather revel in animals than wallow in that self-righteousness and in that idealism again. Both of those are a mud too redolent for this hog.

To write about animals is a luxury for some, who feel to compelled to write about the world in its horrors to avoid the very issue, but for me, it is the balm that keeps me sane enough to exist.

A robin on the lawn, a lazy loping squirrel, and an eager German shepherd wanting her ball thrown are all better to things for my prose to consider and dissect than the crumbling, broken world of man.

It is how this cynic keeps his romance of life going, and it is this romance that makes life so precious and sweet. That, and true love, of course.




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