It's been ages (as in months, not as in Noding For), and I wasn't a daylogger in the past, but this seems to be the best place for putting this all down...
It's redundant to say that all my perceptions and sense of proportion have been changed. Anyone who can't say that has no concept of death, or war, or the world, and has a mental age of no more than 3 years. (Or, blessedly, lives somewhere that has no concept of CNN and the Internet.)
It was surreal on September 11, 2001. I was at work preparing for a regular Tuesday morning meeting and I overheard a couple of coworkers talking about vague reports of a plane hitting the WTC. Then it became two planes. At that point, I was thinking Cessna, not 757. I went to my meeting and heard some more vague details from folks who had hit CNN's and The Washington Post's websites. Right before the meeting started, I got a Nextel radio call from another coworker who had been on his way up to our emergency offsite operations facility to do some maintenance work -- something about a plane hitting the Pentagon.
The meeting started. We talked for a good 15 minutes about what was happening -- none of us had had much time to tune in radios or hit websites, so it was mostly speculation. Then we tried to hit our meeting agenda. I didn't stay long -- I was summoned to the Satellite Control Center (I work for a satellite company, btw) with orders from on high that we were evacuating to the emergency facility. Not that we were in any real danger (since terrorists thrive on media coverage, the last people they'd want to take out is a communications company!), but downtown DC was about to turn into a pandemonium, and the high-ups felt it was best to move the critical operations out and send everyone else home for the day while the going was still good.
In the SCC, the TV was on, and then I saw it, for the first of dozens of times.
I called the guy who had called me minutes earlier, to tell him that he was about to get a lot of company.
As we made our preparations to move out, I watched the TV, and the replays over and over. This has been said over and over, but it was something I should've been watching on a movie screen, or a video clip from a computer game. This couldn't be real.
We evacuated. My wife went crazy trying to get a hold of me on my cell phone, but she finally did. She went home from work while I did my job in assisting the move to the emergency facility. When I finally got home, we talked a lot about it, and fended off a dozen OhMyGodAreYouOkay? phone calls and almost as many emails from friends and relatives.
We coped with it over the following days. Our high priestess was getting married that Saturday, and that had to go on, because we all needed the spiritual and emotional lift. We avoided watching TV news, but we listened to the radio (though we almost didn't, in those few days when even the music stations were doing 24-hour news) and hit the Post website frequently.
It still wasn't real. Sure, it was denial, but it was how we coped. One friend of ours worked in Crystal City, and it had taken her 6 hours to make a drive to the commuter rail station which normally takes 20 minutes. Another had been in Pentagon City for a seminar. A former coworker of my wife would've been hit by his falling apartment building had the Pentagon plane been about a hundred yards to the left on its final approach. Still another friend works for DC Public Health, and he wasn't getting any sleep.
It became real last Friday. My wife was having some radiology done, and we had 3 hours to kill while the isotopes got into her system. We decided to go down to Arlington to a favorite barbecue place of ours, because it was lunchtime and she was under orders to get something to eat and drink (to flush the excess isotopes out). We hadn't been there in a while -- and it would also take us past the Pentagon. We had to make it real, because we were past the point where denial was working.
We'd been a bit confused as to which side of the Pentagon had been hit. It was difficult to see the way we came in (and that road had just been reopened), but we saw the blackened gash.
And we'd already been crying. About a quarter mile beforehand, the radio station we were listening to (Classic Rock 94.7) had started playing an arrangement of Battle Hymn of the Republic that had been done for them, at their request, by an ensemble cast of veteran rockers shortly after 11 Sep. Now, my wife and I aren't Christian, but at this point, it hardly matters what name you give to Divinity, as long as the spirit is there and the message is right.
It was right, and it was appropriate, and it was what we needed, though maybe not what we wanted.