The Balcony of an Inferno

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar North says:

    It makes me glum to think that just last night Obama declared he’s going back into Iraq. The utterly vile thought that struck me at the time was that compared to W Obama’s a pretty cheap date. Bush Minor needed almost three thousand dead Americans and a family vendetta to get him into Iraq. Obama just needed two dead journalists and some specious criticism from neocons that he despises and no one listens to.Report

  2. Avatar Michael M. says:

    I had to walk by Sigrid’s apartment to get to mine, which was the back apartment on the top floor of a converted townhouse in Chelsea. Sigrid was in the front apartment one floor below. One of my two cats was brave and curious enough occasionally to want to explore the big world outside the apartment door, and would usually venture about as far as Sigrid’s door at the bottom of the stairs. That’s how we met, a few months after she moved in, when she home one day while my cat was sniffing around outside her door. Her cat was none too happy to see mine when Sigrid opened the door, but Sigrid thought it was funny. And over the next year or so, our respective cats was our main topic of conversation whenever we’d run into each other. I learned she was from outside Stockholm, where her family lived, except for a sister who also lived in NYC. Sigrid worked for Merrill Lynch — I didn’t know where her office was. She wanted to stay in New York for at least a few years, she wasn’t sure about the long-term.

    My boyfriend and I walked over to the West Side Highway by the Chelsea Piers sports complex after the first plane hit on 9/11. He lived a block from me and we were both close to river, just off 10th Avenue. We stood there watching among dozens of onlookers and all the emergency vehicles fighting to get downtown when the second plane hit. Neither of us had a cell yet. People coming from the gym said the news reports were clueless about what had happened. A woman riding her bicycle up the waterfront said she heard reports that there was another plane heading our way. We decided to go home to see what we could find out. I stopped by my apartment first to try to call my mother, but I couldn’t get through. My parent’s old house in Hillsboro had a view of Mt. St. Helens, which exploded my senior year of high school. I remember staring out the window thinking “I’ll never see anything like this again.” My apartment looked south and was high enough to have a view of just the tops of the twin towers. As I stared out my apartment window at the gray and white smoke streaming across the sky, all I could think was “This looks like Mt. St. Helens.”

    I spent most of the day at my boyfriend’s. A friend, someone who he used to work with who had moved to San Diego, surprised us by showing up in the late afternoon. We didn’t know he was in town. He had been staying at the Vista in the WTC complex. He left about 30 minutes before the first plane hit. He spent the night at my boyfriend’s place and I went home. That’s when I saw the first note on Sigrid’s door, but I didn’t think too much of it. It was a confusing day, lots of people were running around trying to find others, it was difficult to travel around the city, communications were hobbled. By the evening of 9/12, there were three more notes. Lesley, who lived in the apartment below mine, next to Sigrid, had Sigrid’s key. We took turns feeding Sigrid’s cat until her sister could take her.

    About six weeks later, Sigrid’s family came over from Stockholm to pack up her apartment. I can’t describe the look on their faces. I couldn’t say anything more meaningful than “I’m sorry.” (“Your daughter was nice to my cat” didn’t feel appropriate.)

    A while after 9/11 the NYT ran a piece listing the country of origin of everyone who had died at the WTC. There were two from Sweden. Every year since I always try to think about the one who was nice to my cat.Report

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