It was raining 4381 days ago today, pouring, a terrific lightning storm in the early evening outside the window to my home office. I was watching the rain and lightning as I typed something (now long forgotten) under the window. As I glanced up again at the pounding rain, I noticed the wireless router with its two antennas, silhouetted in the flashing lightning. As I watched, the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up and a green glow started to form between the two antennas.
Two things went through my mind very quickly. The first thing was that having a set of wifi antennas on a wifi device in a windowsill during a lightning storm might been a bad idea.
The second thing was: duck.
I dived off my chair, getting my head down and flying for the floor as fast as I could. The net effect of this was that my left hand went up while my right hand and head went down, as the boom shook the house and my eyes were nearly blinded despite being tightly shut. I felt the shock in my left hand, down through my elbow, and into my shoulder, where it stopped. I picked myself up off the floor a moment later (this was all in the sub-second response time we expect from lightning) to find surprisingly little damage – the window wasn’t broken and my hand wasn’t burned. My left arm and shoulder hurt, but that was it – aside from the wireless router, which showed no external damage but never worked again; no surprise there. My arm was fine by the next morning.
It is not surprising that I remember the incident so well – literally burned into my memory, as it were – but I would not ordinarily be able to recall the exact year, much less the month and date.
But the next day was September 11.
SOBUMD and I met working at a newspaper and have always been “print media” people, no matter how techie we get. Of the thousands of questions we all had in the aftermath, one of the less important ones going through my mind after 9/11 was, “What will the New Yorker magazine do for the cover?”
I can no more forget it than I can the events of the day itself: Art Spiegelman’s cover was black, completely. I remember being a little surprised that they thought that was enough – and then I turned the magazine, just a little, and you can see the faintest outline of the towers, in darkest gray.
It was a powerful reminder that no matter how dark it gets, while we remember, they will never be all the way gone.
Wishing peace for us all on this day.