Editor’s note: Hello oh dear and gentle reader, presented for your consideration:”It’s Raining in Warroad”, a break from our more traditional pithy fare. This is a Prose piece written for the Future Perfect Series we did at the Bryant Lake Bowl. This might be my favorite from that whole run of stuff, sadly the documentation for it sucks so its lost to the ages.
As to why to run it today, that has to do with Thanksgiving, several years after 9-11, and nowhere near its anniversary’s it seemed worth looking at. I am thankful not to have to live that day again, I will be more thankful when my countries government gets out of a war against people who had nothing to do with it.
PS: the Mick Fleetwood thing is a true story
It’s Raining in Warroad
I think the thing that I haven’t gotten used to yet is the plane flying overhead. Even as we speak somewhere up above f-16 with their stinger missiles armed and at the ready are there protecting us… or watching us depending on whose column you read. Me I don’t subscribe to either side… it just spooks me
The whole plane thing was different but the plane stopping was the weirdest. Not because I fly a lot. But I live not far from the airport not close enough to be soundproofed but close enough that the takeoffs can rattle the windows at 5:00 AM, their noise is the back ground soundtrack of my day. I hear it often and always, and then it wasn’t there. Hours upon hours of relative silence, the kind of thing referred to in bad mystery novels as eerie silence. Broken only by the occasional thunder like whoosh of a jet, a jet that you wish was carrying smiling grandparents back from Florida, the sound of military jets, and life becomes a lot like an after-school special about the apocalypse the kind they made you watch during the 70′s.
And there I sat…shaking at the sound of silence… in a constant din of CNN. There’s this idea that we seem to have as a society, like having a lot of facts about something will sometimes help you cope, but it’s a lie, just another one of the list, the idea of being informed as a positive action in a situation that your ignorance would provide the same results. And all you can do is…
The Morning of Sept 11 my phone rang …now I know we all have a “where were you when the towers got hit story” it’s our generations” where were you when Kennedy was shot”. But this is my story, so I’ll tell it like I know it. Because that’s the only way you can tell a story. The phone rang at 8:10 am and as far as I can tell a phone call before 9 AM is almost never good news. No one ever rings you up in the early morning to tell you they are bringing donuts to your front door. I answered in horror to hear the least serious person I know tell me with a graven voice usually reserved to tell little children that there Puppy had went to the sky to live with Grandma.
At first I thought it was a joke. Of course one view of the TV screen that just a few hours earlier had comforted me with the Happy images of James Garner as a wacky Texas Oil man was now changing how my life, everyone’s life would change. But no one got that yet.
When I was kid I was home, sick on January 28 1986, the Day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. I wish that I had felt emotionally destroyed… I wasn’t, it really didn’t effect me, I saw it happen Live in front of me but I didn’t get it. I mean I felt bad that people had died but that’s about where it stopped. I just wanted cartoons to come back on.
Sept 11, 2001 at 8:15 AM Central Standard Time I got it,
The giant sense of loss hit me not just this horrifying act but all the horrifying acts ever, the challenger explosion the idea of battles in world war one, where 4000 people would die and the realization that the last 1000 to die in that battle had to walk over the bodies of the previous 3000…they had to know… and I had to think that must have gone into battle knowing , and I think, no I know that would have driven me insane. How could it not 1000 insane soldiers marching over their brothers to die.
I thought about a castle in England that I had been to where they let you into this pit or dungeon I guess they put prisoners in but they wouldn’t give you any light because the proprietors said it was too gruesome you could see the marks the inmates made in the wall to mark there time. Me I had my own flash light …bad idea they weren’t lying …I really wish they had been.
The Spanish inquisition became very real. Indian massacres, I remembered the Alamo. .. It all made me sick. Not the nausea of Sartre, I know that one well enough, no this was a whole other kind of sick. I got the cruelty of nicknaming the buck-toothed guy named Jim: bucky beaver in the second grade. I got it all
I stare in disbelief clutching my wife, as I watch the second plane, wondering if anyone saw the first plane hit in that building and thought, not that much of it and kept working, I sat sad eyed and slack-jawed calling everyone I knew in New York, to receive nothing but busy signals… sure they live in Brooklyn and never find themselves near the twin towers, but best to be safe. I guess when the plane hit the pentagon it was a little different, although I remember My High School social studies teacher had said that it was really impossible for that to happen, so many missiles, and soldiers watching the skies, and I …well I believed him. It’s that thing we all have that belief. Someone tells us it’s ok so we take them at there word. Even though common sense tells us otherwise. It’s what allows people to smoke, they know it will shorten their life but they do it anyway. It the little lies we tell to make ourselves feel comfortable in our skin.
Meanwhile people are dying and there soot everywhere. Peter Jennings is theorizing that the heat must have been so intense as just to evaporate people. All this tragedy, Manhattan a sea of soot and ash, and that everyone there is breathing dead people, and I start to imagine that smell…
I read once, that in every breath we take that there is at least one molecule that’s been breathed in ad out by every person and thing that’s ever lived. Jesus, Hitler, Buddha, J Edgar Hoover and Sammy Davis jr. and now add to that the ashes of a couple thousand people who died because they went to work.
And I look at my wife, Now if you don’t have that certain someone, who really is that certain someone, and it’s ok if you don’t cause most people seem to miss that train. In favor of more convenient ones, you won’t know what I am talking about; I thought about losing her I held her so tight it hurt and we sat there a collapsing building flickering on our TV half a continent away from where it happened.
I was shocked about how selfish it made me feel. Not that this would happen here in America, that was just time, rather how different everything would be… I was right within a month thousands of layoffs and a new sense of patriotism and paranoia.
That’s sort of the funny thing isn’t it everything is different …kind of as much as exactly it is the same … it’s always amazing what you can adjust to in time, I think that explains people who live in abusive relationships, they just get used to it and once your used to it you can deal with just about anything…
When I was 16, I was in my first bomb threat, I was 16 and in London on a high school trip, I was the only guy, me and 13 girls, not the bliss that my adolescent brain thought that it would be. I spent a lot of time just on my own, and being 16 I had to hit all the cultural highlights like the worlds largest department store ” Harrods” Terribly unhip in retrospect but what are you going to do, and as I was walking through the men’s gloves and umbrellas when I heard a loud alarm bell, followed by lots of swat looking police officers with dogs and shields and guns storming in, as I stared wondering if was going to die amongst a sea of Burberry.
I locked eyes with a late 50′s bushy bearded giant , that looked not unlike some sort of Tolkien creature, in that moment I saw on his face what I have to imagine was the same look on mine: panic, fear, and a strange sort of acceptance. This was just a new reality to be dealt with just like the introduction of a new umbrella into an otherwise rainy English landscape. It was only as I joined the throng heading towards the exit that I realized my bearded man was Mick Fleetwood, you know the guy from Fleetwood Mac. The funny thing is I hated Fleetwood Mac.
4000 people dead maybe, man that sucks… I know I should have something more profound, something that underlies the senseless brutality of it all, but what the hell can I say that 10,000 guys who write for the New York Times have said before. It sucks and not because it was Americans.
Mass death anywhere sucks, hell one death sucks, even if you didn’t like them very much. That’s why I would make a rotten god, because I hate loss, anyone anywhere.
I become obsessive about trying to stay in touch with old friends, because I don’t want to lose them …that part of myself… its those selfish motivations again. I go back to my old neighborhoods ones that I haven’t lived in for ages just to visit the convince store clerks… for some reason they always remember me. And it’s the little things they remember not my name, or what I do. It’s that I drink Coke and not Pepsi, that I prefer the cheap novelty candy to the more standard chocolate bars. They say the genius is in the details; the say the devil is in the details too…. Just who are they anyway, cause that’s pretty damn confusing. But I do think they matter because it really is the little things that we sort of…look foreword to at the end of the day, your more likely to reflect on dinner then on the profundity of your paper work.
See nothing is permanent, nothing it all changes eventually. In school they tell us the world will eventually lose it’s life in like 30 billion years. It still makes me sad, that in 30 billion years no one will be around to know what coke tasted like in green glass bottles. What cherry blossom trees look like in full bloom, they won’t know how beautiful my wife’s face looks in the morning before the make up and hair. And that kills me inside. It doesn’t matter that by that time the Moorlocks, or apes will overrun mankind or what have you.
The great pyramids, the redwoods of California, Chicago they are all just temporary. All our monuments and memorials will be lost in time like whether or not the guy who cleaned the floors of the 53 floor of the east tower of the world trade center preferred danish or donuts in the morning
I wish that I had something great to leave you with some parting shot of hope and light, but I have to return to that day… The day, after hours of Peter Jennings telling me that he just didn’t know, and the squawking voice of the radio offering only the familiarity of weather reports of distant but close places as a source of comfort. I had to leave and go outside, I am by nature not a nature boy. Nothing against the great outdoors I just prefer concrete to dirt… I just needed to walk, and I noticed that the trees didn’t know what was going on, and the squirrels were just doing what they do… gathering nuts for winter … life just did what it does, and I walked to a dairy queen and eat an Ice cream cone, because sometimes that’s all you really can do.