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Wednesday, September 11, 2002
That Day, Part IV:Midnight Aircraft Maintenance
The American flags stayed off people's shirts for weeks, maybe months. The flag in the menswear store came down. On 9/15 I saw a flag from the Daily Telegraph hanging in the window of a store that sold hip clothes for women with no hips (i.e., not me). It said, "Support New York", and I went in to thank the manager, who was nice. I may have blubbered a bit. The next day it was gone.
I began to wonder if some of this was a strange form of delicacy: the US was a fashion accessory before 9/11, but it would be wrong, now, to wear it as such. I remember the first time I noticed someone wearing his Russell Athletics USA shirt again, a young Asian man. I tried to catch his eye, but couldn't.
In Sydney I always slept listening to the TV. In the weeks after September 11 I would wake up and grab the headphones, to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Sometimes I would find myself listening to one of Rumsfeld's press conferences. Once I was tuned to the BBC and heard a man with an American accent discussing the maintenance history of an engine. Never wake in the middle of the night to listen to people discuss aircraft maintenance. It's never good news. In this case it was about the crash of American Airlines Flt 587, in Queens.
I wanted to come home. I never felt so isolated in Australia. I had plenty of news, but no schmooze---no one to talk with, cry, wonder, grieve, scheme, worry, speculate, plot and rant with. I briefly considered using September as an "excuse" to come home (which I'd been wanting desperately to do). But it occurred to me that it would be shameful even to let anyone think I had run home afraid. (Also, I didn't have a job at home, like I don't now.)
At first I read newspapers online obsessively, spending gobs of money to stay connected for about eight hours a day. Some Usenet groups were also a comfort. But I wasn't really satisfied until I discovered the Wonderful World of Blogs. More immediate and less structured than newspaper columns, less full of corrosive drivel than Usenet groups, they offered big, muscular comfort.
So thanks, bloggers.