Crumbling
    Bill Andrews
I am at the first crossroad. The defining moment of a generation previously undefined. Two towers collapse and New York is in a cloud, a city that will never be the same. The boom now over, the towers left to crumble.

It is left for us to ask why weíve been sleeping and when weíll wake up. Iím trapped in an office, all contact down, getting news in bits, seeing stills I cannot believe. I want to cry, but canít; Iíve never wanted to before. I want a drink, need a drink, though I rarely do; my hands shake as I pound on the keys, overwhelmed, unable to think, unable to know all there is to know now.

Iím lost. I am nothing. My problems matter not at all. I meld with the masses and watch, amazed, terrified. My old dreams are over. A victim who now lives my life by the pretext the crumbling has exposed. New York has crumbled before me and I have crumbled with it.

I canít think. Canít stand. Iím stuck in my chair. Maybe I should hide myself in a bathroom stall and curl up on the floor. And the planes keep falling. Washington. Pittsburgh. Camp David? Me? Why are they doing it? Does that matter? Two great towers are gone. The very symbols of New York, the symbol of America. I saw them, just three months ago rising mightily from Walt Whitmanís already mighty metropolis. I walked through Union Square and into the gutters of the Bowery looking for a glimpse. When I finally spied them rising high and dense, distinguished one from the other by that massive, now falling antenna, I stood and stared, contented myself, then turned and walked away. Iíll never see them again.

I heard of people falling from the sky and could hear them fall in my stomach. Theyíre buried in a cloud of concrete dust. Did I know them? Theyíre gone and so is a part of me, defeated and retreating into insignificance. My dramas are over. I am nothing in the universe, a victim of time and circumstance colliding. Sirens blaze outside my office, loud but helpless. I am crushed, sitting at my desk, waiting for news, changed forever, a speck.

The warplanes are up. I am sure of that, and nothing I can do will stop them. So I leave for home on my bike and will be watching TV soon. People just act, feel, respond, second by second, station to station. The heroism makes me small and shames my own tears, my need to reflect and compare this with my own experience. Comparison fails and I crumble.

I leave my office overwrought and dreamy, and life goes on. Itís September, still warm but crisp, rich in green and blue. I pedal along the water. Couples walk and sculls skim the murky surface. I race them from the edge. It is so calm and I forget. Across the bridge, I eye the Charles into Boston and imagine the Prudential or Hancock gone, crumbled, and I canít. It all seems so right, it all seems the same, only somehow more peaceful. The sky is still, no clouds and all the planes have landed, adding to the hush. But now Iím home. The TV is on. My wife will be home soon and the phone will start ringing.


 
 
 
 

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