So, it’s not September 11th. But it’s what I’m thinking of.
That and 1994. I’m watching Star Trek Generations. It’s 1:30am. I’ve been up for about twenty hours. I’m tired. I’m intoxicated. I had a lousy night at my part time job.
I was in a BS “introduction to theater” class at Towson University on September 11th. Couldn’t tell you the professor’s name. The class was large, so he split us into two groups: A-Week, and B-Week. Half of us showed up one week, the other half the next week, and we got the lessons split across those classes. My buddy Keith, who I went to middle and high school with, was in the A-Week, I was in the B. Lost touch with Keith. He’s now a Navy nurse at Medical Center. Married. We live close, but I haven’t seen him since we were neighbors in Timonium.
Picard’s family has burned to death in a fire. They were seen briefly, in a fairly touching episode of the show’s fourth season: Family. It’s not remembered well, but it’s basically the third part of the series of the episodes detailing Picard being conscripted into the Borg and made into Locutus. The summer between Riker ordering the Enterprise to fire a super-weapon (and kill Picard), and the resolution … man, that was a long fucking summer. The production was actually making sure they’d be able to lose both Patrick Steward and Brent Spiner, who reported wanted to move on.
Anyway, so I’m in this theater class. The prof’s been called out by another teacher and is out of the room. We’re in one of the actual auditoriums in Towson’s theater building. It’s huge. There’s a stage. In front of me, this kid, who was in all the local papers (not just the university’s Towerlight, a few years later NYT’s Brian Stetler would be lead editor) for his basketball prowess (tall red-headed Jewish kid, from what I recall, my mind blanks on his name) talked about a plane hitting the World Trade Building.
I’ve been drinking. Two 16 oz ciders. A 12 oz Bass. About to pop the cap on a second. A lot of backspace here to correct errors. This is a tough time of the year for me. Those of you who’ve read this when I worked at the pizza shop I nicknamed the “Indy” remember my boss Gary. He and his wife Dawn were married many, many years ago on September 11th. I remember them on this date. I spoke to Gary for the first time in years a few weeks ago, to let him know he might be contacted as a reference.
I thought the plane the basketball star was talking about was small – a Cessna. Something tiny. The pilot would be dead, of course, but hopefully everyone else in the building was okay. I had no reason …
Class ended. I think the professor dismissed us early.
I made my way down to the Student Union. I was reading in the lounge. I think I may have been making my way through Catch-22 for the first time. I remember laughing a lot at it. It’s a funny book, when you get down to it. I need to re-read it, soon.
At some point, staff began setting up TVs in the Union. Turning them to CNN, I believe.
I’m not quite sure when I started watching. The horror. I remember the second plane hit. I don’t know if it was live, or recorded. I do remember, quite clearly, the plane striking the tower, the fireball, the woman near the microphone, transmitted over the air, exclaiming “Jesus Fucking Christ!”
And I knew I just had to leave. Maybe I should’ve stayed. At Towson. Found comfort in some coed’s arms.
I walked to the parking lot. Maybe I ran. I got into my Jeep. I drove hard and I drove fast. The TV news feed was broadcasting over the radio. 98-Rock, maybe? I’m not sure. Probably 106.5. I think they’re owned by NBC or CBS or ABC.
I raced up Delaney Valley Road. I’d just moved from Towson to Cockeysville. I remember spending much of the week glued to my TV feed. I was working part-time as a delivery driver for the nearby Papa John’s. I missed a lot of calls, them trying to get me in to work because all of a sudden business was through the roof.
I was never good at college. I fumbled through it for a few years. If I’d applied myself, I would have been a recent graduate in the fall of 2001. Perhaps I would’ve even been in New York City. Anyway (I eventually stopped going all together, then went back a few years later and earned my degree while working a shit ton of hours per week with a decent GPA), what’s done is done. I’d love to be transported back in time to high school, knowing what I know now (for one thing, I’d've bought a shit ton of houses in Baltimore City and sold ‘em in the midst of the real estate boom).
Why the fuck doesn’t Soren just fly a shuttle into the the stupid ribbon thing?
There’s a lot of talk in this movie about time, and how it stalks you. “In the end, time is going to hunt you down and make the kill.”
Picard replies: “It’s our mortality that defines us, Soren, it’s part of the truth of our existence.”
Today is Saturday, September 10th, 2010. It’s been almost a decade. It seems like yesterday. It seems like ten years. I remember Christine Blackmon, with who I took a lot of English classes. I remember Jack Carneal’s class. I remember the girl who dyed her hair who me and Christine were close with. She’d just moved in with her boyfriend. I remember his name was Steve, but I don’t remember hers at all.
Jack told us all to call him “Jack.” He was an adjunct, but it was still cool. Our first class back, after the towers fell, he just spoke about his recent trip past New York. I don’t remember much about it.
Did you know the crew of Lursa and B’Tor’s bird of prey were the TNG cast dressed up as Klingons? Gates McFadden had a beard. And Data’s “Yes!” is still the most awkward line of the film.
I remember Linthicum Hall. Freezing classrooms in winter, sweltering in summer. Worn brick. Tall stairs. Splashed by reckless commuters on the bridge from the parking garage.
It’s been ten years. And some days, it seems to have been that long. This weekend, it seems to be yesterday, like I can just reach back and touch myself, ten years, two apartments ago. I can even remember the layout of my apartment. I can remember watching the news feeds.
I wonder if it’ll still feel like yesterday in 2021.
“Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.”