It is Tuesday.

And I am sitting at a table in a hotel made of plastic and glass molded so it feels like fisher-price for businessmen. Every piece the same, nothing complicated and nothing out of the ordinary.

But this Tuesday was anything but ordinary.

I am eating a shitty continental breakfast and watching CNN with my roommate.

The talking heads announce that a small plane has just collided with WTC1. It is 8:53 AM.

My roommate chuckles--how do you accidentally hit a building?

I shrug, and laugh along. Seems weird, but it's the biggest target on the island. I suppose if you were going to crash in Manhattan and hit any building at all, one of the twin towers is the most likely.

We are living in a factory-pressed Fairfield inn on the north side of Macon, because our university has not yet finished our dormitory, though the term started a month ago. We're watching CNN as we wait for the shuttle bus that will take us to school.

At 8:57, we get on the bus.

When we arrive at school, we hear murmurings that another plane has hit, but they are unsure, no-one has details, and we think maybe there's just confusion about the first plane. I try to check CNN but get nothing. . . just white space.

We sit through our first class (E-Mag with Dr. J). By the time it is over (10:20?) all the rumours have gone a little bit higher contrast around the edges, and we're hearing not just about two planes, but about a collapse, something about New York being covered in dust and debris.

I head downstairs and bend one of the computer lab's terminals to my will, finally tunneling to CNN and Fox News, and the first picture I see is from Liberty Island--our nation's proud maiden in the Foreground and a tragedy playing out in freeze-frame behind it, all dust and steal and movement where nothing should be moving. All of the motion inward and downward, so human. Like a person suffering an emotional collapse.

Our Dean cancels classes for the engineering program before the rest of the school administration has reacted. The engineers huddle together around a TV someone has brought in, and around the labs, in groups of three and five. No one wants to be alone, but we don't congregate as one either. We need a sense of family, not a sense of tribe, it seems.

By lunch the rest of the school is also shut down, and the student center is full of the youth of a nation in pain--milling about, confused and worried but without a purpose. There is more energy here, it seems almost restless after the somber state of the engineering building. I eat lunch with a few friends and retreat, seeking out the people I know with family in that area, trying to find them even as they try and find their blood, trying to establish any assurance that people are alright in a world that seems to have filled up with television images of disaster and yet emptied of working telephone lines.

In the afternoon we attend a prayer service to commemorate the event. We go, but it seems hollow. Empty. We know we need to be there, but it seems so haphazard, inappropriate--this is not what we were supposed to be doing today. Life was supposed to keep ticking along normally.

And after a fashion, it did. On Wednesday, class resumed.

Now it is Monday.

I wore black to work today.

Monday, September 11, 2006