Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quatrain #2: Red, White, & Blue

On that morning, the air was crisp, the sun was hot, the sky was bald and blue. I took my daughter to preschool, and prepared my mind for one of the first days of teaching that semester. The car radio was tuned to NPR and by the time I got home, I heard this unbelievable news. I'll never forget walking into the front door and immediately telling my wife about it. A friend of hers was there then too, and the words I heard her say in response were very callous and cold. I believe that she really didn't understand what I was talking about, and I was flummoxed.

The gravity of the news stunned my mind and body because it was many moons previous that I was there, gazing with wonder at that magnificent site. The apartment of my friend at Canal and Varick had this seventh floor, up close and personal view of them. Although appearing to be practically next door, they were really blocks and blocks away. He and his wife always gave me a futon to sleep on with a window view. When I cast my gaze from the floor up to the night time sky, there they were; humble, peaceful, and glowing with that playful randomness that interior lighting always seems to do. Regardless of the car horns, alarms, sirens, and subways passing through, falling asleep was never difficult. They would bid me goodnight, then greet me in the morning; stellar, bold, and just standing there... so cool. No matter how many times I visited, I always loved to see those friends, see that site, be in The City.

I drove to the college, and I listened to the radio on the way. I found out that it happened a second time. I sat at a red light at the intersection of Huron Parkway and Washtenaw Avenue, waiting patiently, listening helplessly. As I walked into the LA building, people were crowded around one of those TVs mounted up high on a wall, near the ceiling. That was the first time I saw what I heard. A faculty member suddenly turned around to escape the crowd, and as our eyes met he threw his hands into the air and exclaimed, "who would do this?!, ...who would do something like this?!" I was speechless. I had no idea what to say. I watched some more, and still couldn't really understand what I was seeing, and I'm not sure if anyone else standing there could either. I got to my office, closed the door, and cried.

The rest of the day was just surreal. I went to lunch with a colleague and the sky was just as clear, in fact, it appeared to be even clearer. There was not an aircraft to be seen anywhere, at any altitude, let alone the typical mess of contrails that paint the sky with diagonals. When I taught my 1:00pm class, I started with, "whoever needs to go home, can go home... no questions asked." Those who know my attendance policy are the only ones who can put any real value on that statement. When I returned home a mountain of news had accumulated... it was overwhelming. We had a TV, but we hadn't used it for any sort of broadcast reception for almost two years. No antennae, no cable. I went to a local mega-grocer-department store to buy a set of rabbit ear antennae for 12 bucks. As for the picture quality? It was so 20th Century.

Did this change my life? Yes, indeed. Does my experience attempt to compare itself to someone who had a friend or loved one that got in the way of all this? No way.

As for the quatrain? Let your mind wander, wonder, and find on its own.

1 comment:

  1. These are great Don! Looking forward to others.