It was just another morning in early September. The son was getting ready to catch Tri-Met for his zero period freshman English class at Benson Polytechnic High School. My husband was listening to the news on the radio in the kitchen. I was getting ready to start posting eBay auctions for my jewelry (back when I was living the Portlandia cliche of overeducated stay-at-home working mom, making jewelry and writing stuff to make some money).

Then the husband rushed into the living room. “A plane’s hit the World Trade Center.”


“Probably something small. I want to see it.”

For the record, husband works in aerospace selling jet engine castings and other related parts. This definitely affected his work.

We turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit. My first reaction to seeing it on TV was that it was a simulation, it had to be a simulation, it didn’t look real.

The son had to leave for school. Did we let him go or not? We shooed him out to the bus stop. High school, and Benson was pretty dang competitive in those days. He needed to go there.

Husband went to work and I kept watching, realizing that eBay wasn’t gonna be appropriate. What on earth had just happened?

Reports of the Pentagon crash. By then I was afraid for the son. Benson is across I-84 from the Bonneville Power Administration headquarters. I could easily see BPA as a related target–I’d worked for a contractor who had represented them in a securities litigation lawsuit (complicated story there–let’s just say I knew a bit about BPA).

I called a friend in Seattle. She turned on her TV just in time to see the first tower fall. We reacted together, then hung up to go about our day.

I was still active in church, so I went to Daily Mass. A lot of us younger folks were in shock. Many of the older folks remembered Pearl Harbor. They comforted us, steadied us. The old guys joked around about whether they could still fit in their uniforms, but their message was clear–live your lives, be watchful, and pray.

The silence from the airport was stunning. No contrails. The only planes in the air were the National Guard F-15s. Our house rabbit at the time, a rather pugnacious Mini Lop buck, took to following me around, to the degree that when I ran outside to watch a F-15 rocket down the Willamette, executing a lovely three (or was it four?) point barrel roll, he was right at my heels.

The day was heart-breakingly clear, beautiful and blue. I went to my hair appointment next to a flag and banner shop. They’d already sold out of flags.

I hung out on Usenet in rec.arts.sf.fandom, as New York members checked in. I hung out on my e-lists, where New York members checked in and people worried about family members around Ground Zero. As days went on, and planes started flying again, I still had a visceral reaction at spotting a jet coming into PDX, turning at just that angle that I had seen when we first turned on the TV. My online sales tanked, first in reaction to the economic crash that followed, then to the suspicion of mailed items that followed the anthrax attacks a month later. I stopped mailing manuscripts because of the anthrax scares and the resistance at the time to unscreened MSs.

Well, we know how things turned out, for the most part.

But I still occasionally get that twinge when I see an airplane turning at just that angle.

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