Ten years ago today, it was my first day of school at the University of Toronto. I lazily listened to the radio after the alarm went off, until a breaking story about a wayward airplane interrupted the newscast. In the living room, I turned on the television and watched the second one arrive – the plane that proved the purpose of the first. We were supposed to arrive at our first class collected and confident, ready to discuss analytical theory of French literature with aplomb. Instead, we were stunned, disoriented, mournful.
My future husband was in the woods of Algonquin, completely oblivious. A few days later, he and the guys refused to believe the outlandish story they heard at the ranger’s shack; it must be just one of those tall tales you tell campers to remind them how far they have been from civilization. Now, it is eerie to remember that September 11th was the only day that week that it didn’t pour rain on them: the one beautiful, blue-skied day of the camping trip.
I’ll bet you remember where you were, too.
That Friday, I watched memorial services and cried to think of all the people who had died and lost loved ones, and all the people who would die and lose loved ones in exchange. The thought of even more carnage was agonizing, even though I knew why it would happen, and that people were demanding it. What an awful time.
This is what I wrote that month.
This is a season of ladybugs.
People walk around with them
Sticking to collars and hair, unaware.
In this season,
Torontonians walk down St. George
try to picture the tower gone.
In this season,
flags cuddle together as they fly
modern-day kings face off in the schoolyard
rallying their friends
blindly flinging pebbles as hard as they can
no question of saying uncle.
In this season
we shudder in varying degrees
as we open our mail.
Some of us staunchly bless America
less than ever.
We know childhood heroes can die
(did Mr. Dressup have a firefighter costume?)
We know the record man can go under
We know there’s poison in that
bursty blue sky.
Shaken and changed,
we bustle around like always,
all in it together.