At about 6.30 this morning the phone rang and it was Jodie from work. She told me that she had overscheduled today and that I could have the day off. Ordinarily I would have been worried about missing a day’s worth of pay, but not this morning. I told her that it was okay. Then we said goodbye and I went back to sleep.
I got up at 10. It was good to get the extra rest. My allergies were so bad last night that I couldn’t get to sleep until almost 2 in the morning, and only then because I had taken 2 different kinds of medicines. At 10 o’clock when I got up, I immediately turned on the TV. That’s probably the reflex of most people over the past few days. Katie Couric was talking to a psychologist about some of the emotional implications of the terrorist acts.
Thousands of people have died and there has been tremendous suffering and destruction and the images of these past days have burned themselves into our brains as sharply as a knife, and we will never forget. Last night my sleep was very troubled, more so than it has ever been in the past few days. I kept having semi-nightmares about the towers collapsing, helicopters circling over the wreckage, newscasts repeating details endlessly. And my nasal congestion kept switching from the left side of my face to the right side, and then back again. Only for a few hours this morning, when the medicine had obviously made me so completely groggy, did I get some real rest.
I’m glad that I’m not working today. I did not want to have to work Tuesday, while things continued to unfold, or yesterday. But I did. I really wanted just to sit in front of a TV in a comfortable chair and just watch, just absorb what was unfolding, try to be as intensely in the moment as I could. But the coffeeshop remained open. And I worked. I found myself guiding customers through transactions that seemed in turns both comforting and absurd. A “small, good thing” to help us all get through this time, and something meaningless and unnecessary.
When a woman who had ordered some beans on Tuesday began crying and then apologized, I told her it was okay and told her in a soft voice to take care. But then there was the man who rushed into the store with a complicated order that he wanted immediately, even interrupting the transaction to demand his espresso WHILE HE WAITED FOR ME TO FINISH and furthermore complained “your credit card machine is so much slower than everyone else’s.” I wanted to take that man and slap him with a biting comment, or rip his credit card in half and throw it in his face. I can’t understand how he could fail to act any differently than he would on an ordinary day, which this certainly was not. How could he be so rude to insist that the speed of his transaction took precedence over the shock that we all were feeling?
Today I finally have time to put some of my thoughts into words. Much has been said and thought about and there’s no end in sight to the expression and reflection we all will be part of.
It meant a lot to me, to Andy, and to everyone else at her concert that Laurie Anderson did not cancel her performance on Tuesday night. She carried on. You could tell she was emotional; her voice cracked during a couple songs and she seemed at times almost on the verge of losing her composure. Before the first song she said, “Thank you for coming here tonight. We are dedicating our music this evening to everyone who died today.” And the first song she sang was one from her new album, which just came out about a month ago. A song called “Statue of Liberty.” And she sang the lines: “Freedom is a scary thing/so precious/so easy to lose.”
I can’t say that the concert was fun, or even relaxing. But it did make me feel better. I think everyone at that show felt that being there on that particular evening was the right thing to do, to share our feelings and state of mind with Laurie and with each other.
Today I will work on my book. It’s what needs to happen. We can’t allow ourselves to be paralyzed, or to exist in a state of fear. We will go on creating, because life has meaning.