That Day I originally posted the following six months after 9/11 and even after another nine and a half years, I'm not sure I could capture with any greater clarity how I felt (a word repeated over and over) on the day and since.
It's honest if self-indulgent but anything else I'd attempt to write now would just increase the noise which surrounds such days.
Some of the sentiments have changed, I'm older. But I still mean the final words.
At this point I was still at the Royal Bank of Scotland credit card customer contact centre in Manchester, still commuting to the other city for work each day.
Stuart Ian Burns is a twenty-seven year old call centre advisor living in Liverpool, England.
September 11th was the first day off sick I'd had in months, getting over a cold. I'd spent the morning in bed watching the video of 'Bullett' and had moved to the couch for 'Ever After' which I turned off for a bathroom break as the second plane hit the building. I remember swearing loudly and like everyone else who saw it I suppose just kept watching as the footage was played over and over.
I was divorced from what was happening. I wasn't really thinking about the human cost -- all I kept thinking and saying was that the buildings couldn't continue to stand. I suppose the part of me which cared was shut off somehow, like it didn't want to think about the people inside, what was happening in the building. But I clung onto the speculation. 5000 dead. 6000 dead. 7000 dead.
It was only the next day, on my train into work as I sat reading my newspaper, the tableau photography of the site of the disaster that it began to sink in. As the train passed through Warrington Central I began to weep. I began to think of the people, how I would have felt if I'd been them.
I worry about the future a lot, how I'll feel when the people I know are no longer there, and these thoughts overwhelmed me.
These people I need to talk to sometimes when it hurts. What happens when they are gone. And self-indulgently I suppose I thought about how I had reacted whilst it was happening.
Why was I crying now, the next day? For the first time in a long while I felt like an ugly person.
So, even though I wasn't there, I was so far away from what happened I felt the pain.
Like everyone I just felt numb, unable to talk about much else. I'd see people I hadn't seen for a while and I'd still feel the need to talk about it even though they hadn't brought it up.
Where where you when? What happened? How did you feel? And I knew it brought down the conversation and that it ruined the night (or day) but it felt like it had to be talked about.
Have I changed? I think so. I saw the end of 'Ever After'.
I'm more tollerant with people than before, expecially strangers. But I was always a reasonably calm person before -- I already felt the urge to see beauty in everything. I think the most significant thing is how I am with people in general. I try and make the most of the time I spend with them, and feel bad when I don't spend as many moments as I could. I get annoyed with others who I know should and could be more giving, but their personal survival instinct stops them.
And there is one other thing. Before I never said goodbye to people. I would be acquanted with someone and I knew I might never see them again when they left the country or left my company. And I would always say 'until next time' or 'I'll see you soon...' Now I just say two words, but they are always heartfelt, and I always mean them, even if they seem a bit false sometimes.
[previously posted in this thread at Metafilter; here is the article of inspiration]