The summer of 2001, I was 26. I was living in Denver. I had been sick with kidney stones all that summer and it wasn’t until September 10 that I felt well enough to leave the apartment I shared with my mom. I went to a now long-gone mall and bought a lap desk from another long-gone institution, Waldenbooks. I wanted a lap desk to do my writing on in bed, back in those days I had intended to get my novels published. I remember picking it out, talking with the cashier, enjoying the mall, waiting at the bus stop with the shopping bag on my lap, I remember a couple of people arguing over O.J. Simpson, I remember riding the bus home.
The next morning I had an appointment to go to a dating service, but because I lived near it I didn’t have to get up any earlier than usual. I remember hearing this clanging and banging. My mom and me lived in a small apartment in Capital Hill, walking distance from Downtown Denver. My bed was a few feet from the kitchen. The clanging and banging woke me up, and I opened my eyes to see these skyscrapers on TV and one was smoking and the caption on the screen said something about a plane in the “WTC.” Despite being a writer at the time—NYC is the capital of the literary world—I had no idea what this “WTC” was. I looked over into the kitchen and my mom was washing the same dish over and over and over, that was the cleaning and banging I’d heard. My mom had her back to me but I noticed how she kept washing that same dish over and over—my mom is normally very calm and collected, I’d never seen her like this. I asked her what was wrong. “We’re being attacked,” she said, and threw the dish back into the sink then picked it back up and washed it again. I didn’t believe her at first—the news anchors were saying that “someone” had flown into the WTC and that it seemed to be an accident. So I shrugged it off and figured, just a tragic accident, I went into the bathroom and when I came back out the second tower had been hit. Of course we all knew then for sure it was an attack. I called the dating service to cancel my appointment because I didn’t know whether other cities, including Denver, would be targeted. The guy I talked to was a grade A blank—he scoffed at me and asked me why I was so scared. I’m like, hello, are you kidding me?! This was around 11 or so Mountain Time, 1 PM back East so he knew what was going on and was calling me a coward and crybaby and stuff—I had a panic attack over it and have never been able to deal well with phone calls since. I don’t remember much after that except I just kept “doomsurfing” every tv station we had—I remember even MTV, the shopping channels, and TBN had live news of 9/11 on for I don’t know how many days. Eventually I made myself go out on Sept 12 or 13 down to Walmart, even though I had no money—I just had to get away from that news. Walmart was crowded—a lot of other people went there for the same reason I did, as I talked with them and found out. I don’t even remember many people in Walmart buying anything.
I still have that lap desk I bought on September 10, even though its styrofoam fill pillow flattened long ago after a lot of use. I refuse to get rid of it—every time I see it, I think of that last day of a world that, to me, is long gone. I can’t bear to part with it, even if it falls apart, I’ll wrap it up in cellophane or store it in a bag. I can’t forget 9/11 but I refuse to forget 9/10.