(no subject)

Five years ago - right now. I was sitting with my girlfriend, Sara, in a Philosophy of Religion class with Professor Richard Gale at the University of Pittsburgh. I found out about it on the 12th floor of the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland and it was described to me as follows: 'Some people are hijacking commercial airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers in major cities.  Go find a television.'

I took the stairs.

Sara and I split up, which I later regretted - I wish she would have come back home with me so we could have spent that day together.  I found a television and watched what was going on.  I left.  I got on a bus in Oakland to go to Downtown Pgh. to catch the 16A back to Sewickley. After 5 minutes we had moved less than one city block. I got back off and began walking. I walked from Oakland to downtown and it was just amazing: Every solid inch of the Pittsburgh road system was gridlocked, with every single driver, walker, officer and child, keeping one eye panning the tranquil sky. I could see fragments of it shift from in between the buildings as I walked... It was so blue and lovely. And no flying objects to be seen.

At PPG place I say a middle eastern man - perhaps in his mid-30s - running down the sidewalk crying. I didn't think anything of it at the time - I didn't really think much about anything for a good while, in fact.

When I finally got to my bus stop, I waited...and waited...and waited... Finally a 16A came by with no more room for passengers. Then another with no extra room. Then I took the only bus I could fit on - it went to the North Hills.

Nobody spoke.

I got off at Northway Mall - a place I've always associated nice feelings with. From the time I was in middle school, my parents and I would always go out to Borders and spend the evening. It was the first long distance place I learned to drive to by myself. I'd take friends, girls I liked - when I'd skip school, I'd usually end up there... And that day the entire mall was desolate. The only sign of life was at the far end of the parking lot - a group of people waiting at another bus stop, screaming to me that the mall was closed.

I had to find a pay phone. They kept screaming, I kept walking toward the mall.

My dad was off on vacation that week, so I called home. Fast busy signal. Another fast busy signal. I got through to my uncle, who only lives a few blocks away from my parents. He'd come pick me up.

So I sat down under the large sign advertising the films and waited.

I estimated that it took me 30 minutes to drive there in good conditions.  I added 15 minutes for old man driving and then multiplied the sum by a huge, fat unknown variable to account for it being the must fucked up day in human history...and I waited.  It was at this point that I started to think about what I had been putting off -  'Okay, three and a half hours ago, in a crowded bar, you watched the world trade center collapse with thousands of people inside.  The world trade center.  The world trade center.'   Then I just looked at the sky.  It was so quiet - there wasn't even the atmospheric noise that one would always hear near McKnight road.  Just silence.  

I sat for about an hour just looking at the blue sky.  When my uncle came, the radio was not on.  I asked him to turn it on and from that point I became disconnected from any sort of genuine opinion about the whole thing.  I learned about the details as the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years unfolded.  But only for about an hour - while I was sitting and waiting to be taken home - did I really connect with the way I felt.  It was mildly painful, but far more confusing - and it wasn't confusion of the 'missing data' sort.  Nope, that much was pretty clear.  It was confusing on the level of just how bad things could get.  It was what would be a spiritual crisis for anyone else, I suppose.  For me it was just thoughtlessness.  Because what's the next step?