So I made it downtown Tuesday morning, to a block within my work, and was overwhelmed by the number of people rushing towards the commuter trains, bus stops, and garages to pick up their cars. I got voicemail from my supervisor, but I couldn’t listen to it (I could only see the little message icon on the display on my phone) because there was no service. My walkman had died while I was on the bus, so I ran around in circles, wondering if I should fight my way across the bridge or just turn and go back home.
I ran into a few co-workers on the Monroe St. bridge, yelling at me to go home because the building had been evacuated. I was surprised, stupid person that I am. Of course we were evacuated — I work across the street from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and 1 block up Wacker Drive from the Sears Tower. I am within walking distance of the Board of Trade, the Exchange, and the main branch of the Chicago post office, City Hall. I managed to get home by bus. I stopped by the local burger place for a double cheeseburger and a banana milkshake. I know that using food as a comfort tool is wrong, but yesterday (it’s Wednesday as I write) was wrong and I feel like nothing will ever be right again.
I started panicking as soon as I turned on CNN. I couldn’t reach anyone by phone, so I wondered about people in New York and elsewhere on the east coast. Would I ever hear my father’s voice again? Did Nick make it to work? Where was my sister temping this week? Why doesn’t the phone work? Where is everyone and everything? The only thing I wanted was someone to be with me while I sat and watched in horror. The last thing I wanted was to be alone and sitting on my couch. Fortunately, Jacinda showed up with Joe, armed with junk food and cigarettes. We were on our phones all day, trying to find anyone who knew something. I must have called Maria a million times today. We’d just sit and watch CNN together, only getting off when one of us got a phone call, or remembered someon else that we had to check on. Then we’d call each other back and sit, in silence, watching television and hoping it would stop.
Obviously, I was able to reach people in Chicago, but getting people in New York was difficult. I got Nadine — her classes were cancelled, and her boyfriend Nick had to walk home (he works in mid-town; they live in Morningside Heights near Columbia where she is a student). People in New York had to walk into the outer boroughs for working trains and buses. My sister had to walk from 59th street into Queens in order to get a train home.
Seema said that injured people were being flown to Cleveland, as New York hospitals were filling up. Celi’s mom, who travels all over the country and is often on the east coast, is okay. Joe’s uncle, a semi-retired Air Force general, was not at the Pentagon today and is alright.
I don’t know where this is going. I can’t sleep even though I have to get up at 7:30 and go into work and do my part to keep my small part of the financial world operational. I feel like I have to promise to function normally even though every time I close my eyes I see people leaping to their deaths. Every time I put my hands over my ears I hear people screaming, crying.
Jacinda and I got out of the house this evening, to get away from the television. We drove around, browsed uselessly at Target, then came home with ice cream and watched more CNN. I was glad to get out, because I could forget (if only temporarily) what happened. But why would I want to forget something like this? I kept going back and forth between channels, CNN one minute then Comedy Central (which had its regular programming) the next as a respite. But the news kept pulling me back in.
People in the news keep saying that we will come back, that life will be normal again. I don’t doubt that, but I don’t know how I will do it. I know I’m luckier than the thousands of people who lost their lives, or lost loved ones. And I feel like an awful person for just blathering like this. But I don’t know what to do. I’m going to try to sleep, and pray, and wish that we have some answers soon.