September 11, 2003


If you've not visited Michele's Voices project, please do.

I'm borrowing the text of Meryl's (Meryl Yourish) to show you how powerful these stories are.

    My how-I-heard-it story is of no matter. It's not very interesting. I left work early, stopped and pick up some extra groceries, talked with neighbors until after dark. What I found far more visceral was the first time I realized what exactly was a strange odor that sometimes permeated Montclair, where I lived at the time.

    A few days after the eleventh, maybe the thirteenth or the fourteenth, I was driving across town for lunch. It was another beautiful September day. My car windows were open, and I thought to myself, "Someone has used far too much fertilizer on their lawn."

    But it wasn't fertilizer. The wind was coming from the east, and it brought the smell of the remains of the twin towers burning. And though that was the first time, it was far from the last.

    My birthday is November 15th. On November 15th, 2001, I went to dinner with friends. We had dinner at a favorite place of mine, Charlie Brown's, in Upper Montclair. As we left the restaurant, Brenda sniffed the air and asked, "What's that awful smell?"

    It was the World Trade Center fires, still burning, two months later. Montclair is twelve miles west of New York City. Every time the wind was in the east during the months following September 11th, you could smell the towers burning.

    This is what I wrote that night:

    We may be getting closer to normal, but we will never forget. We will never be the same. Twelve miles west of Manhattan, and I can smell the Towers burning. Ten o'clock at night, and I can step outside onto my patio and smell Ground Zero.

    Twelve miles west. There's a theater troupe in Montclair named Twelve Miles West. I can no longer think of them, or that phrase, without thinking of the wind coming from the east, bearing the odor of death.


Posted by hln at September 11, 2003 07:30 AM | War