Calm. The first mile of a 900 trek. Radio reports. Gridlock. Tunnels shut down. Driving back to New Haven. More questions than answers. No cell service. Dead payphones in Greenwich. Regroup at lunch. Dad says to go. Upstate New York. Driving. All news on the radio. No songs. Flags at half staff in Poughkeepsie. Flags at half staff in Pennsylvania. Still haven't seen any pictures. The towers collapsed? Disbelief. Driving. ~And I'm proud to be an American~. West Virginia. Three AM. Gas is almost three dollars. Hotel near Morgantown. Red Roof. I'm safe, Mom. CNN. Pictures for the first time. First time crying. Ashes everywhere. Panic and confusion. Armani suits walking across the GW bridge. Walking anywhere that's away from tragedy. Feeling the pain that belongs to all those people in New York. That belongs to all those people in DC. That belongs to all those people in Pennsylvania. Belongs to all of us.
Drive to Lexington. Straight to Man O War. Security guard at the drive. Never had that before. New station employee ids? A lot has changed in my life in an instant. Airplane security. Post office security. Anthrax scares, too? Bits of local news. Jennings wall-to-wall. How do we localize this? Runyon at the airport. Greg on Frankfort angle. I've got to produce an hour of straight local coverage from 5 to 6? No commercial breaks? I need this, and this, and this, and this. I still can't believe it. We still can't believe it, and we report on murders and crimes and bad things happening every goddamn day. All I want to watch is news. Monte's dad died in the towers? People searching for loved ones. The pictures. The pictures. I cannot get enough.
The new continues. Localize this. Security at federal buildings. Magnets already on cars. Runyon at the airport. Again. And again. And again. Should she set up a bureau there? Flight restrictions. Unearthing stinky feet and holy socks. Collecting goods. Blood donations. Lines to give. No pocket knives. No tweezers? Is this what it's come to? A local serviceman dead at the Pentagon. Who do I make this check out to? ... Can I sign the book? Tragedy miles and miles away striking the very core of the Bluegrass. Rattling the very simplicity of our innocence. Complete & utter shock the cliched reality. 911 means something different now.
One year later. The same. Runyon still at the airport. We're really not that safe, after all, are we? Still taking the shoes off at the airport and we do it in the name of safety. Random checks. Possible profiling the story of the year. Pack your patience as you go to the airport. The American flag has a bullseye on it. Fear abroad for Joe Citizen. Just because of our beliefs. And I thought everyone wanted to live the way we do. Maybe their jealousy is fueling that hate.
Much the same today. Nerves still raw and hurting five revolutions later. Tears come running at the sight of the people screaming. Towers burning. Firefighters running in to the unknown. Flying blind to save people. Still at Orange Alert. Families without their daddies and mommies and sisters and brothers. Whole offices wiped out. Neighborhoods plagued with single parents coping with tragedy. Children. Children trying to grasp the most complicated of concepts that even adults struggle with. Blind hate giving birth to fear. Should I pretend to be Canadian on my trip? Getting ready to take the shoes off once again. This time with new socks. No liquids. Threat du jour. It's a way of life we just struggle with. Prepare for. Pray for.
For the rest of time.