The things I’ll remember: the flies.
The smell of sea salt on the air as the rain started falling. This was Tuesday night: the tenth. This was after beers with a buddy. This was the start of the storm, and we couldn’t help but wonder aloud why the fuck it smelled so much like the ocean.
I’ll remember how on Wednesday I sat in a coffeeshop and watched the rain come down, remembering how, twelve years ago, September the 11th wasn’t like this; it was crisp as an autumn morning, the sky as blue as summer, and it was clear enough that we could hear the towers fall from 1800 miles away.
I’ll remember how on Friday, the sea smell was everywhere on my clothes and body when I walked inside from shooting it all. The sun had come out, and I’d ran with sweat as I climbed down the rocks toward the mud and water. I’ll remember how I didn’t know if the salt and smell was me.
Most of the rocks were still solid and didn’t wiggle under my feet, even the ones that rested between the base of the concrete overpass and the rushing waters; two sapling trees lasted much longer than the logs that swept downstream; I didn’t notice that the footbridge was gone until my mom pointed it out. Only then did the previously ineffable space the water covered make sense; On the ground, it’s rushing water. From the sky, it’s mostly puddles; This afternoon, children ran and played in the greenbelt behind our house and they seemed totally oblivious, the way our dog seemed totally oblivious–the way I seemed totally oblivious almost twelve years ago to the day.
I remember how September 11th gave my seventh-grade heart a thrill. I remember laughing at my friend for making up stories about planes and bombs and New York. I remember watching teachers staring at a television screen through the glass front window to the office. I remember how I started to realize his laughter wasn’t because he was pulling a fast-one. I remember rushing home with hopes of breaking the news to my folks, as if they didn’t already know. I remember almost rooting for the towers to fall because it would mean something had finally changed, something else had happened: the stasis had broken, something, anything but those towers and the smoke chugging into the air, and the questions and the insecurity and obscurity and the unsurity of the anchors on TV: my blue balls of adolescent need: the attention deficit in being twelve.
I’ll remember, today, people gathered along the rivers and flooded intersections with cameras below the humid sky and a sun that hadn’t been seen in days; they stretched their legs by revelling in the awesome destruction. They feel alive by being alive, where saying “wow” is at once as superficial as cameraphone photos and as resonant as a yawp.
I’ll remember sitting on the couch watching nightly news anchors, the same way that I remember, twelve years ago, standing from the couch to leave the room at eight in the evening because I couldn’t stand watching those goddamn talking heads plaster cameraphone photos and try to say “wow” in every way except “wow.”
I’ll remember how, before, it was a creek: a river at its best. And I’ll remember how, in the night, from our house, we could for the first time hear the water rushing.