Honestly, I'm trying to avoid a lot of the 9/11 remembrance stuff going on today. I shy away from blogs with posts remembering 9/11. But baby Butter is asleep in my arms so I'm stuck in front of my keyboard . . . so I thought I'd take a moment to remember.
Peaches. My memories of September 11, 2001 are tied to peaches. Like so much of the country, it was a beautiful day here. We had the windows open and exchanged the sliding glass door to the deck for the screen door. 'Skandar was three and R was just a baby herself, 8 months old. I was home with them all day. We were building a new house and were scheduled to have a storage unit dropped off in preparation for putting our current house on the market. One of the last things DH said to me before he left for work was "if you are going to use these peaches for babyfood, you need to make it today." Overripe peaches. I was happy to add poaching and blending peaches to my to-do-list for the day.
Life seemed so full and so good. I got the kids breakfast. The house was still full of cool morning air. Blues Clues was on TV and I was on my knees chasing my crawling daughter when the phone rang. I don't remember whether it was DH or my mother who called first. "A plane hit the Trade Center?" Ominous, but interesting.
I changed the TV to CNN. I couldn't make sense of what I was seeing. I couldn't get up to speed. They were re-playing footage from a local NY station of a young green reporter standing outside with a view of the towers behind him. He had been sent to report on the first plane that no one had really seen. The one that might have been a little single engine plane. As he was trying to explain to viewers what had happened the second plane appeared over his shoulder, the reporter at first thought it was an example of the regular flight paths across NYC and pointed it out to viewers. Then when it hit, disappearing into the second tower, he lost his composure and said, "Oh my God, what am I seeing?" In the passing years, I have never seen that footage again but I remember it so well because it summed up my own feelings in those first minutes of learning of the disaster. What am I seeing? I was frustrated with the cable coverage and finally realized that the networks would be covering it was well. When I turned to ABC and saw Peter Jennings, I was relieved. Peter could make it make sense to me. And he did. We kept the TV on ABC for the rest of the day and into the early morning.
By the time I got up to speed, the first tower had fallen. I called my husband at work in disbelief. (He had been on a business trip the week before, we were so gratful he was not travelling). how could the tower have come down? Then on live TV, as I was watching, still on my knees, crying aloud for the lives being lost before me, the second tower fell.
Three-year old 'Skandar complained about where Blue's Clues had gone. Trying not to cry, I told him that it was important that mommy watch the news instead. He called "mama's fire show" and went outside to play with his trains. I talked to my sister living in DC, my friend Martha, my friend Linda, my mom again. Right on time, the man with the drop-off storage unit appeared with his truck. We talked about the attack a bit outside as he unloaded the unit, the sky so blue and so clear. Then I asked him in as I filled out the paperwork and we sat together on the couch, two total strangers and watched the TV.
At some point that afternoon, I went into the kitchen and there were the peaches. Still soft and ripe, still waiting to be pureed into babyfood. It was painful to look at something so everyday and ordinary and so unchanged when it seemed that everything around us was different. I thought of all the couples whose exchanges that morning had been filled with such ordinary talk and who would never be able to talk to one another again. Babies who wouldn't know their fathers, mothers gone from their children.
Late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001 I sliced peaches and put them in the blender. I carefully poured the puree into an icecube tray and froze it. Tears slid down my face, in sorrow for everything that was different and for everything that was unchanged.