Shake the Dust

Today I attended an event in which the speaker was a 9/11 survivor. She was thirty minutes late to work that day. She was standing in the lobby of the north tower waiting for the elevator when the plane hit. She felt the shaking, and she heard a high pitched whistle just before the entire lobby was engulfed in flames. The pressurized jet fuel in the plane exploded and sent a wake of fire down the elevator shafts. Over 80% of her body was burned.

They made their way out of the building and onto a little patch of grass across the street and started to roll and put out the flames. She said she saw many people around her stop moving. Just dying a few feet from her, and the only reason she didn't do the same was because she chose not to.

In the moment that she was nearest to death, when she felt every inch of pain so distinctly, when she was so close to the other side that she could reach out and touch it, she was given a choice. Dive into the relief and let it take her, or to stay here. To live. The impression I got was that it was as clear a choice as "chicken or beef". As if someone stood before her and asked a question. Live or Die?

And she chose to live.

Others didn't get that choice. But you get that choice.

I watched a documentary about this photograph today. The Falling Man. It was both terrible and beautiful and I loved it.

I'm living.

Today was my first day serving tables on my own. Some great friends and family stopped by to wish me luck and tip me well. I loved it even more than I knew I would. It was somber day for more reasons than you know, and even so, I felt a strong spirit that everything was OK in the world. Or at least that it would be. And sitting in the mingled silence of the train on the way home with a handful of strangers whose lives are full of problems and hopes of their own, sharing short smiling glances, I felt a little remnant of that togetherness that kept the world from falling apart twelve years ago. It was a beautiful kind of peace.

I have a new life since my last post. In my new life I don't blog much, but I sometimes have a pony tail and write poetry, and that's just as good. In my new life I serve tables in a Mexican restaurant and take the train to school. I like my new life a lot. So if I don't tell you often, I'll tell you clearly. Life is good.

Riding the night train home after work. The very definition of "serene"


  1. and you look good too.

    freaking love your posts.

    1. Thank you for being a fan! You are the best.