9-11: The Awkward Day


People look at you and then break eye contact. It’s all in the look on their faces. It’s subtle but palpable. They don’t say anything, but their expression speaks volumes.

At the cafeteria, there isn’t exactly a crowd of colleagues running to sit with you. The flat-screen TV is on mute, but the images of the towers collapsing flash during lunch. Folks look at the screen and then at you… and then look away.

Even though you sit by the door, people deliberately avoid striking up a conversation as they pass. It’s too awkward.

You are never really sure what the other guy is thinking. They are looking at me and I assume they wonder: “Is he or is he not?” And then they must catch themselves: “I can’t believe I’m even suspecting him!”

I’m looking back at them: “They are all suspecting me… or maybe not at all.” I catch myself: “What’s wrong with me that I suspect them of suspecting me?”

It’s a maddening day of unspoken emotional ping-pong. I’m exhausted by the time the work day is over and the commute is done. It’s the one day I won’t turn the TV on when I get home.

Seeing the airplanes hit and the towers collapse was one of the scariest days of my life. And then learning that one of the men responsible has the same name as my uncle…

The feelings from that clear day in September still make a knot in my stomach. It’s painful. Then the day is over. But I’m not sure the hurt has gone away.