Saturday, September 10, 2011

The day the universe changed?

I’m not sure if I believe in parallel universes, but if they do exist, there was a portal to one in my garage ten years ago.  But I couldn’t bring myself to look into it.

Ten years ago we still had our daily newspaper subscription.  We’d had one for years, but by 2001, we really weren’t reading the paper much any more.  We liked our big Sunday paper with the comics and all the ads and coupons, but often we just didn’t get around to reading the weekday issues.  And lets face it, if you haven’t read yesterday’s paper by the time today’s paper arrives, it’s probably not going to happen.  And it might not happen with today’s, either.   Instant news on the internet was rapidly rendering printed news obsolete.   As the pile of old newspapers, too many unopened and unread, grew each month, I was ready to cancel our subscription and save a few trees.  Jerry still wanted to know it was there for him when he wanted to read it, however seldom.  So, we had our newspaper delivered every day.

That was the state of affairs on a sparklingly beautiful September morning ten years ago.  It was about 6:45 AM Pacific time, and I was getting ready to take my son to school.  His zero-period class would start at 7:00.    On my way out to the car, I picked up the newspaper that had been tossed onto the driveway just an hour or so before.  I tossed it into the garage and got in the car while I waited for my son. 

If you know anything about teenage boys and early mornings, you know that they are not a good match.  Michael had it timed so that he stayed in bed until the very last moment, allowing himself just enough time to get up, dressed, eat something and get himself out the door so I could get him to school just as the bell was ringing.  I did my part by being ready in the car to take him there.  So on this particular morning, as I was sitting in my car in my driveway, waiting for Michael to come out, I turned on the radio, (it was NPR,) and they were reporting live about some kind of big breaking news.  As I listened, it sounded almost frantic as the reporters relayed what was happening.  A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center?   For a moment, I thought it might be like H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds:  eerily realistic, but in the end, just a story.  But no, this was real.

Michael got into the car, still sleepy and grumpy and not caring much about what was on the radio.  I remember thinking how serious it sounded and I asked him if he thought he should stay home.  He said he didn’t know, but he might as well go to school.  I dropped him off and came back home, the gravity of what was happening in New York beginning to sink in with every passing minute that I listned to the radio.

I had called home to Brice and told him to turn on the TV.   I don’t think we turned it off for the next 2 or 3 days.   I won't try to describe the feelings.  I think everybody old enough to understand went through their own shock, grief, anger, and whatever else.  As the days and weeks passed and we slowly resumed our normal lives, it became clear that that "normal" felt different now.  Our world had changed. 

Days later, still adjusting to this new reality, I came upon the portal to another universe.  It was that newspaper from Tuesday, September 11, still unopened in the garage.   I knew that inside it contained news, sports, weather, advertisements.  But I also knew that it was printed in a universe that didn’t have four hijacked planes in a diabolically choreographed plan that killed thousands of people and forever altered the mindset of millions more.   I never did open it, but I held onto that newspaper for several months, the way I would keep a seashell or a dried flower.  It held a memory of something that might have been, and maybe still is, somewhere in time and space.  


  1. have me blubbering. What a well written story! It is so hard for me to believe 10 years has much has been changed, killed, damaged...we are all still suffering from the damage of it. I am happy I will be working tomorrow...I can't think about it.

  2. That is a wonderful story. Do you still have the paper? It was a day I will always remember also. I was woken up by my husband very early. Because of the time difference. He had heard on the radio by the bed about something happening and turned on the tv. He said we should get the kids to watch because this was important. They were in their teens at the time. We watched the tv and events unfold. We talked together about what was happening so they would understand. They stayed home from school that day. It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years. I did watch the memorials in the 3 different locations. They were done quite well.

  3. I didn't mean that it was a wonderful day. Poor choice of words. It was terrible. But your story was written very well.


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