Where was I when the planes hit?

I just put this on Emily Ford’s Facebook and thought I might as well post it here also.

I was in the computer lab, at my desk, at Rockwell Elementary School.  I was by myself, reading my email.  The first grade teacher across the hall poked her head in my room and told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I had been in that building two weeks before, buying a show ticket (Proof, with Mary-Louise Parker, I think; it was awesome).  My cousin, Judy, had taken me there to get it at the TKS. She had waited for me in her car while I waited in line.  What a nice cousin.  I remember being afraid that, after I got the ticket and found my way out of that huge building, I wouldn’t be able to find her car.

Anyway, I didn’t believe what this teacher told me.

“No way,” I said.  I really thought she had it wrong.

“It’s on TV in the library,” she said.

For awhile, along with many other teachers and children, I watched TV in the library.  I remember the moment Dan Rather arrived (not at his usual evening hour), saying, “This is Dan Rather.” There was something in his tone that seemed to say, “this world just changed.”

When the first building collapsed, the assistant principal turned off the TV and said we couldn’t watch anymore because it could scare the kids. I still resent that a little. Of course it could scare the kids! It scared everybody. But I wanted to know what was going on.  I wanted that TV on!

That was a quiet day in the computer lab, and I spent most of the rest of it online, scanning for updates.  I belong to a listserve of playwrights, many of whom live in NYC. They were chatting heavily about who was where, announcing to others that they were alive! I remember one email that said, simply, “I’m okay.”  I also exchanged a few emails with cousins in New York.

I kept expecting the internet to go down, but it did not.

When school was out, I watched TV for the rest of the day. And night. And week. And year…