Monday, September 11, 2006

five years ago today

I fell asleep with the television on and awoke right before the second plane hit the WTC. My sister Laura worked for Senator Boxer in the Federal Building downtown, so I scrambled to wake up and make sure she had no crazy ideas of going in to the office. She didn't. Helena still lived at the penthouse, she was finishing up a degree at FIDM. So Helena, Laura and I sat in Laura's room watching the news coverage, crying. We came to our senses and dialed our friends living in New York. We couldn't get through.

The night before, I was on the phone with my friend Fred. He was telling me all about his meeting the next morning, at the WTC. And now I couldn't reach him on his cell phone.

We couldn't stay cooped up in the penthouse any longer, unable to make contact with our friends in New York. So we ventured out onto the empty streets of downtown Los Angeles. At the time Helena was friends with some chick who was a raging alcoholic and it colored so much of our behavior back then. I forget her name but I think she was sleeping on our sofa at the time. Helena grabbed a six-pack of beer from the fridge and the four of us walked down the street to Angelique Cafe. We sat on the patio and ordered damn near everything - the charcuterie plate, the cheese plate, coq au vin, the salmon omelette, merguez sausage sandwich - one of everything. The streets were quiet, save for a car here and there disturbing the eerie silence. We sat quietly, eating and drinking the beer out of brown paper bags. Classy, yes, but at the time, we didn't care.

Later that afternoon, the first of many phone calls from New York arrived. But not from Fred. Everyone else we knew was safe. Frightened, angry, confused and inconsolable - but safe. We walked back to the penthouse, checked the news and sat in the living room, looking at our city's skyline and contemplating what it would've been like had any of our buildings fallen. It was too horrifying to contemplate, so we drank more and more, yet unable to achieve a drunken state. I remember asking Laura, because she would know best, "What do you think will happen next?" She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Whatever it is, we have to survive it."

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