Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
The world beats wildly inside Stacey Talise Dow, a vivacious 25-year-old who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and today lives in Portland, Oregon. Talise holds down an assortment of jobs: volunteer coordinator for a science museum, Spanish science educator, physical therapy assistant, community news anchorwoman. Her passions include dancing, hiking, snowboarding, writing, leisure biking and, of course, exploring. Her adventuresome spirit has taken her to places such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Hong Kong, and she has wandered throughout Europe and the United States. On the morning of Sept. 11, Talise was in her living room watching television. She put pen to paper Sept. 11, Oct. 28, Nov. 14 and Nov. 19.
I awoke the morning of September 11th to a phone call from my best friend. “Look at what they’re doing to your country,” she said in a voice I had never heard from her before. The time was 7:20, and I turned on the television seconds before the second World Trade Center tower dropped to the ground.
Confusion. Illusion. Interlude. “Holy Mother Fucking Shit You Guys!” I screamed. “Get Out Here!”
My roommate was in the bedroom with her ex-boyfriend. I know that she had tried to be discreet with his nightly sleepovers because she felt guilty about her lingering intimacy with him. But now was no time for respecting discretion. Whether shitting, fucking, fingering, whoring, it did not matter; right now, this early morning minute usurped the attention of everyone in America.
We all stared stupefied at the wretchedness unfolding before our very eyes on the TV. The lives being lost were such an abstract idea, the disappearance of the towers, surreal. (Surreal: a word I have noticed has become a fixture among peoples’ daily vocabulary.) But I also thought about those blissful few who were still unaware of what had happened. I knew that this event had just tainted millions of lives in a way that was absolutely irreparable. A shiver borne from a very deep abyss within my psyche crept over me.
I knew at that instant that our lives had changed forever. I felt that there was no longer any sense in trying to make tiny ripples in the ebb and flow of the world when something like this can come along in an instant like a tsunami and wipe out every small endangered chance and hope that ever existed to make the world a more peaceful place.
I knew that my generation finally had a definitive disaster and probably war by which to define itself – by which to account for all the countless future political and economic crashes that were sure to soon follow.
I had always had a wild imagination when it came to terrorism and conspiracy, but I can’t say that I ever believed something like this would happen in my lifetime.
I know I will not know the freedom I have enjoyed in this country and in this world the same way again. It saddens me that Afghanistan is now a place I will never be able to visit. And I hate that now the Bush administration can and will do almost anything “for the sake of national security.” Goodbye environmental preservation and presumed innocence, and pocketknives on airplanes. John Ashcroft is now even finding time to go after Oregon’s assisted suicide law!
I cannot say that I fell deeply into the schism of consumer-patriotism. I was gone from the USA this past year and my ties to Americanism were still a little weak at the time of the attack. My heart has tasted some of the tragedies other nations of the world must endure on a daily basis because of United States policy. This is, of course, no justification for what happened. I have tried to feel around for what is right on a global scale. But I have never considered war to be the answer.
I wonder what America stands for more often than I used to. I wonder, if the Taliban were to start making a state-of-the-art computer chip or some other thing of American value, would we buy it?
I don’t really know that we wouldn’t.
I guess I’m just tired of men molding the world with their pricks.