How silly everything else seems right now. All our day-to-day concerns over traffic jams, long lines at the grocery store, whether Britney and Justin are really dating or whether its just an act.
It doesnt matter.
I wont tell you what does matter; I cant purport to really know. All my friends and family are fine. Most of my friends friends and families are okay, too. And like everyone in the country, Ive never had to deal with anything like this before.
I usually try not to talk about the Flyer newsroom. I have a vested interest in preserving the newsweeklys mystique, and, honestly, its not that interesting. We basically just sit at our computers, typing and talking on the phone. (Thats what it looks like anyway.)
But Ill let you in on a little secret. People magazine wasnt the only publication that tore up its cover story on shark attacks and scrambled to find something that would analyze, commemorate, elucidate the horrible events of September 11th.
We stopped the presses. And then everyone on our staff went into full reporter mode.
Being in the media during an event like this is saddening, maddening, and just plain frustrating. Especially when youre away from the epicenter. I hesitate to compare it to what the victims families are going through, but theres that same sense of searching. Trying to find out exactly whats going on. Needing to know everything. And getting virtually no answers. One ear is glued to the radio, the other is perked to find out something new, to hear something that will make everything make sense or a story that will make your readers experience some strong emotion.
For 24 hours, I went down with this information. It was all I listened to, all I talked about, all I wrote about, all I thought about. I forgot to eat. I forgot to sleep. I called my parents and my sister to make sure everyone was okay, and we watched the news together. I was entirely wrapped up in everything that was taking place. I listened to Peter Jennings more in one day than I probably have in my entire life.
During that entire time, I never stopped thinking about it for a second. Im not sure whether to attribute this to being a reporter or being an American. Because Im not sure how much people who had phones to answer, patients to see, payroll to get out thought about it. All I know is that there was nothing I had to do that would take my mind off the horror of it all; my job was to keep my mind on the horror of it all.
Not until Wednesday afternoon did I realize I had more people I needed to call to make sure they were okay, psychologically. It was like I had been underwater and suddenly I remembered to breathe.
As of this writing, it has been a little over 48 hours since the whole thing began. And please understand when I say I dont want to think about it anymore. I want to remember it, I want to do something about it, but, for right now, just for a little while, I want to think about something else.
I want things to go back to normal.
And I know normal can never be. Not for the victims, the victims families, or anyone else in America.