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the day after

"This train will stop at Bleecker."

I have read that amputees continue to feel phantom sensations long after their limbs are gone.  Like an itch they can't scratch.  Or an ache they can't soothe.  Or a pain that won't heal.

I believe it.

There are three stops south of Bleecker on the 6 line of the New York subway system: Spring, Canal, Brooklyn Bridge.  But today you can't get to them, at least not by train.  Not really by any other form of transportation either.  Large swaths of lower Manhattan have been cordoned off.

And of course, some of it is just gone.

It still hurts.  I can't stop myself from looking up as I get off the subway.  And all I see is a cloud of thick white smoke where the New York skyline used to be.

When I get into the office, attendance is sparse.  Most people are huddled around in small groups, exchanging facts and stories.  Everybody has something to say.  Everybody has been affected.  What strikes me the most are the people who don't make it in today.  And I have to wonder if they are grieving for someone in particular, or mourning everything in general.  My thoughts go out to them.

We are the lucky ones.

There is, understandably, not much real work going on in the office today.  Those of us with clients spend most of the time on the phone or email placating and reassuring that projects will still be done on time.  Everybody is very understanding.  Everybody is still in shock.  And although this day is strange, slow, unproductive, the message is clear: we will maintain our path, stay on schedule, honor our promises.  We will move on from this.

I have maintained my moratorium on news media.  Not that I think it will go away if I ignore it.  I just can't deal with reliving those moments over and over.  I can't deal with listening to beautiful, well-coifed, studio-bound talking heads tell me what a tragedy this is.  I don't even want to begin thinking about what this means for our country, our immediate future.  I can't seem to get my mind beyond New York City.  Or off yesterday.

Despite my conscious avoidance, I do manage to catch one headline as I ride the subway back home today.  It is from the Op Ed section of the Wall Street Journal.  A man sitting across the aisle is reading it.  It is so true, I almost cry.  It reads:

I saw it all.  And then I saw nothing.

9/12/01

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