The Loss of Innocence

I was looking for a rubber band this morning and in the back of a desk drawer I found a mini-cassette tape. The first “title” of it had been scratched through and scrawled on top of it was “9-11.” It then occurred to me that this is one of those tapes that used to pop into an answering machine.

I looked at the tape this morning, and a huge knot began to form in my stomach. I remembered that on the day that 9-11- 2001 happened, there was a window of time – several hours – that phones didn’t work (most of us didn’t have cell phones yet), the internet went down, and anyone who lived below 14 th Street in Manhattan (as I did), were told to barricade ourselves in our apartments and tape our windows and doors shut (because of the debris cloud) racing up the island. There was a virtual communications blackout. And when everything came back up
on line (and I had raced outside to see what was going on), my message machine began to fill up.

We all remember the horrors of 9-11, certainly as told through television and our own scattered memories. But what is on this mini-cassette tape – beeped message after beeped message -- is an oral history of what we were all experiencing in real time on that devastating morning.

Out of respect for the time, the moment, the history, the sadness, the devastation, I listened to 56 messages this morning, one after another, from friends across the country and close by, family, colleagues, students, building personnel, the dry cleaner up the street, the parking garage attendant . . .

“You okay?” “Yeah, how about you?” “Yeah. What the hell is going on? I don’t understand this.” “Me neither.” And then silence. All that that was left between us to hear was our loss of innocence.

To those no longer with us because of that dark day, we send you as much love as we can wrap around you, your families and all those that miss you dearly.