We are back. The blog and me. Reality. Kindergarten. Waiting for the bus and not knowing if it will come at 3:15 or 3:55. The eternal morning search for something nutritious and appealing to put in the lunch box. The repetitive questions asked 19 times at 5 minute intervals: have you brushed your teeth, your hair, where are your shoes-homework-backpack-permission slip-lunch? The routine. The rat race.  It seems easier this year with two in big school and a carpool set up for the 3 year old. There is more to do but larger chunks of time to accomplish them. I actually cooked dinner at noon yesterday, knowing we would be shuttling all over the Triangle area from 3 to 6:30. I was able to entertain my over-tired preschooler at the middle’s first horseback riding lesson, even though “horses are stinky and make big poops Mommy. ”  I learned umbrellas can make amazing toys, especially if they have a magic button to pop it open. I got everyone fed, bathed, and snuggled in bed by 8:30. It was a feat. I gave myself a high-five.

I use my calendar now; religiously. Without it I would not know what day it is or where I am supposed to be. My mother’s calendar use to amaze me. She uses the one the size of a desk blotter (remember those?) and hangs it on the refrigerator. She has upgraded to a non-magnetic sub-zero now but it hangs somewhere. Her squares are actually big enough to write a day’s activities in handwriting large enough to read. When I looked at my 2×2 inch square today I realized if I got to Target between elementary and  preschool drop-off, I would actually have enough time to think. And write. I have had a myriad of topics float around my head but not the discipline to sit and write them down in a coherent fashion. Maybe all my willpower is being taken up by the marathon training. Maybe I just need a scapegoat. It is actually a character flaw, stick-to-it-ness. I have ideas that I approach with zealous enthusiasm and then let peeter out after about six months. But here I am; and the most interesting part of this exercise of writing is life keeps giving me endless topics. I thought I was going to write about 9/11 but then I stepped into Target.

It was 8:30 on a Tuesday. I had my 3 year old in tow to purchase honey-nut cheerios, seemless socks, and underwear. I apparently did not clear out my top drawer of the house in Maine. The problem is another family will be in the house  before we go back next August.We packed in a haste, loading up three days early to beat Hurricane Irene down 95 and wait it out at my parents house, with a generator and a freezer stocked with food.  But for the mercy of my friend Becky, my most intimate of apparel would have been found by a school chaplain. Really? Why not the kids bathing suit drawer? Or my shorts or the kitchen pantry?

So we set out to by some temporary replacements. I was not even sure Target opened before 9. But apparently every fashionista in Raleigh does. Missoni created a line for Target and the shelves were stocked today. For about 17 minutes. People were attacking the clothing like they did bottled water in the last ice storm. They were hoarding, manic style. One woman literally ran from her place in line to the shoe department to pick up a pair of heels. The woman in line in front of me spent $1,458. The check out lady could not believe it; the purchaser just smiled and carried herself as if she had gotten a bargain. I have never seen so many Louis Vuitton handbags pushing overflowing carts of merchandise in a mass retailer. I recalled from my advertising days that Target’s real competitors are Kmart and Wal-Mart; these shoppers would be horrified.

I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. How did these people know and why did they care?  Why did I care who was buying what? All this retail spending is good for the economy which helps us all right? How did I get caught up in the rush? I made purchases that I didn’t necessarily need. It seems so crass. Wasn’t it just 48 hours ago we said we would never forget? Doesn’t that mean we actually live our lives differently? We don’t just watch footage of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and crashing planes. We don’t just get sad or angry or scared or even. We re-prioritize. We notice the small stuff. We are thankful for what we have. We hug our loved ones tighter. Because we can.

I lived in Manhattan for two short years. My client was on the 52nd floor of Tower Two. I was in that building at least 20 times in my two year stint. My husband did his seminary field placement at Trinity Wall Street, the church that stood in the shadow of The Towers. It was eerie to be on Wall Street on Sunday mornings. No verve, no rush, no bright lights, very few people. The church was a much more happening place during the week.  Ash Wednesday brought thousands of people to receive ashes on their heads. All shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds. As Episcopalians, we kneel at the altar and have ashes (made from the palms on Palm Sunday) placed on our heads in the shape of the cross. The priest says this: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. I cannot stop wondering how many people from those Ash Wednesday services turned back to dust in the burning of the towers.

Everyone has a story about that day. Survivors. Lost loved ones. A memory of exactly where they were at 8:46 on September 11, 2001. Ten years and two days later, at the exact same time, people were scrambling for Missoni at Target.


3 responses to this post.

  1. I love this, especially the last line.


  2. Posted by Julie on September 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Glad your back and hope that you had a wonderful August. J


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