This was a project for my Gotham writing class. The assignment was a non-fiction piece about being personally affected by a newsworthy event. (Fun fact – I found the pictures only after I had written the story.)
I was awake, but still in bed. The house was quiet; my mom was at work already. The yard outside was unkempt and neglected. Ivy crawled up the sides of the house. A bush curled around the mailbox. The yard had probably been mowed within the last five months, but I couldn’t remember when.
The only thing that was taken care of was my car. We had to give Daddy’s back to the bank after he died, so I had my mom co-sign on a ’99 Hyundai for me. I washed it obsessively. Inside, on the visor, was a picture of dad with his car, an economical red Ford Escort. He was proud to finally be able to afford a car, so I was proud of my car too.
As I lay in bed, I could hear the phone ringing. I knew something was wrong. The phone never rang so much. And it was late, about 9:00 in the morning. I usually got up earlier. Today I just didn’t want to. Today I could tell something was wrong. I could hear my boyfriend on the answering machine, “They’re blowing up your city.”
My dad grew up in Brooklyn. When I was eight we went to the Statue of Liberty and looked through those binocular machines that cost a quarter. We looked at the twin towers together. We thought they were beautiful.
It seemed so weird that the world continues after someone so important dies. That this sort of thing could happen without him here. I wondered what he would think about this. He would probably cry. Maybe he would write a poem about it. I wondered how much loss he would feel. I wondered what he would do or say.
He would get this look in his eyes when he talked about World War II. His older brother died while serving. My father was just a kid. I grew up in a house filled with books and films and art and an emptiness about the war. Dad wrote poetry about the war. I think today would have shocked him nearly as much as the day his family received the news about Uncle Paul. And he would have that look in his eyes, like he was focused on something far away and painful.
I feel like his feelings would have been hurt. It’s hard to explain, but I think he would have taken that morning’s events as somehow personal. He treasured being an American. I was raised to be politically minded and to vote in every election, even the local ones. And he enjoyed being from New York. He still had an accent that I couldn’t hear, but that everyone insisted was there. He just sounded like Daddy to me. But this day would have been an affront to him.
My classes were cancelled, but I got called into work at the TV station because someone’s kid was sick and I needed to fill in. Life kept going on. That’s what stunned me the most that day. That life was still just going on.