Sept. 11, 2001, 5:09 p.m.

By Lauren Michele Fardig for Meniscus Magazine

So glad I didn’t go to Canal St. this morning.

My phone was ringing and ringing at 9 a.m., and I couldn't think of who the fuck would be bothering me incessantly at that hour. Dragged myself down from the loft and answered the fourth call. My boss says to me: "School is cancelled, there's been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Go tell people and try to calm them down."

I look out my window to see black smoke pouring through the sky. It is darkened outside, and there are thousands of people standing in front of my apartment building, motionless. I knock on every door in the building and as I’m getting ready to go outside, screams from the street, people rushing into the streets to see, a low rumble like faraway thunder.

I go outside and see that one of the Twin Towers is gone from the skyline I usually see on my way to school. I’m thinking about the fact that I was supposed to get up at 8:30 this morning to go to Giant Step, below Canal St. near City Hall, to pick up some fliers. I slept in. I’ve never been so thankful for missing my alarm.

The remaining tower is burning, burst into flames on the top portion. You can barely see the radio tower and then suddenly another low rumble and it too collapses, white and black smoke tumbles forward and out and up. Even from here you can see the immensity, the debris shooting outward and then we can't see anything anymore except smoke.

I go back inside to make the rounds of calls to my friends in the city, my family. I am okay, most of my friends are okay, but there are some that I still can't get in contact with. One of my friends was on the subway at Wall St. at 8:50 a.m. Another was at that same office I was supposed to be going to. She comes back to my house later covered in white soot.

It is eight hours later and the sirens have not stopped. There is a seven-hour wait to give blood and I am going soon. The streets around here are completely empty; the subways are not running. You can get out of Manhattan but not into it. The smoke is still rising from where the buildings used to be, just as large and billowing as if it had just happened. It will be in the sky for days.

They are saying on the news that the death toll could be thousands. I am thinking of those people on those planes, of the people on the top floors who were still inside when they collapsed. I am thinking of the backlash, of the immediate government response to place blame on the Middle East and PLO. Of the racial backlash, of the fear white people will start to direct irrationally at people of color. Of the racial violence and intense patriotism and nationalism that will ensue, of the fact that human rights will soon be fucked with for "national security," the way that things like the naval base in Vieques, Puerto Rico will be justified by the Dept. of Defense "in case of events like this."

Everyone is talking of the immense anger and Bush is talking of "the punishment" and I am wondering how we can even start to talk of punishing people, of exerting our fucking muscles as a corporate and political giant. I am wondering whom the US will wrongly accuse and bomb in order to "get revenge" and I am wondering why we are immediately led to believe that the bombers were foreign. What sorts of white-supremacist fear and panic will cause the government to make rash decisions that result in more death?

It has never been so clear to me as it is today, when I am screaming at the news casters to not make guesses as to who did it... because they want to implicate someone to get a fucking news coverage award. It’s hard to have to watch television and listen to radio in order to hear updates... simultaneously knowing that the sickening patriotic attitude of every station is directly related to who owns the news and who disseminates this information.

I’m trying to find out if my friends are dead and they want to tell me about their own speculations on which Middle Eastern country had their shit together enough to pull this off. Saying shit like "Yasser Arefat *actually* sends his condolences and is in support of...." as if he's supposed to be glad that thousands of people are dead?

Anyway, a few initial thoughts. Hope that your family and loved ones are safe. Have strength.


Lauren Fardig, 22, is a white, queer writer and teacher from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who graduated with a B.A. in creative writing and education from Eugene Lang College in New York. She is interested in the ways that teaching/learning, writing and critical thinking are connected to the struggle for racial, economic and social justice. She published a zine, arrowed, for four years and is still entrenched in that work, though it’s taking other forms now.