Eight years ago today, my husband arrived home early from work. As he walked into the room, I rose from my bed and announced that I wanted to get something to eat.
This was a big deal because I hadn’t eaten anything for three days. I’d spent most of that time laying in bed, not wanting to be alive, not wanting to be awake, trying to wish the nightmare away. Sometimes I would get up out of bed and wander around the house. I’d drink some water and see if anything new was on TV. It wasn’t. I’d stand there for a few minutes watching on the idiot box what I’d already seen with my own two eyes, turn it off, and go back to bed. I slept a lot. I cried more than I care to remember. I’d reassure the cats, who were all expressing the worry and concern of communication-challenged but emotionally astute children.
Most television channels still had footage of the crumbling towers on eternal repeat, but a few were starting to show other coverage. The TV coverage didn’t come anywhere close to the chilling, thunderous sound of the collapses as I experienced them from only a mile away. It was very lost on me, and therefore very easy to walk away from or turn off.
The worst of my horror was the certain knowledge that there was no way the US intelligence community hadn’t seen this coming. I tried to push what I knew to the back of my mind, denying it, unable to deny it, unable to forget it, and unable to share it with anyone. The knowledge of this was kind of like the sound of the towers coming down – it was something you’d never understand unless you’d been there. It wasn’t going to be on TV. Trying to talk about it would get one looked at with the level of sympathy reserved for the insane. That didn’t make it any less real or any less horrifying.
My husband gently asked me what I wanted to eat, fully planning to make it for me. I said I wanted something that we wouldn’t have to cook ourselves. I’m not really a junk food fiend, but for whatever reason I settled on Burger King.
We went to the “Bravo Kilo” as we used to call it in the military, and I ordered my usual, which was a whopper with cheese, no tomato. While we were sitting and waiting for my first meal in three days, a fire broke out in the kitchen. The fire alarm began incessantly shrieking and strobing. Shortly a hook and ladder company came barrel-assing into the parking lot. The other people in the restaurant glanced uncomfortably and sadly at the firemen, still feeling the shock themselves from 9/11. I was quietly laughing like a crazy woman – the last damned time I’d been outside the house there had been the same scene… smoke and incessant sirens. Just what I needed, another overload of adrenaline. Nobody there except my husband would understand why I was laughing, but it wasn’t like anyone could hear me over the siren anyway. Eventually after what felt like an eternity tied to a mast, the husband returned bearing my food.
Three days of not eating won out over the adrenaline. I took my burger to go and we got the heck out of there. I ate it in the car.
Every year on September 14th, rich or poor, sick or well, at home or a hundred miles away from home, I go to my local “Bravo Kilo” and order a whopper with cheese, no tomato.
Now you know why.