A nightmare woke me up in the early morning hours I usually never saw, and clomping down the stairs felt like gravity was particularly aggressive. A lamp spilled orange light on one of the boy roommates who hadn't seen the business end of a morning in awhile, either.
"A plane just flew into the World Trade Center," he said, one of infinite echoes of that same sentence being uttered to the sleepy unknowing by those who woke up first. We were both reluctant to become fully awake. Our levels of alertness were maybe congruent to the demise and fall of the first tower, at which point I realized that years of disaster movies had stolen some of the horror from that moment. I took a radio to work and held it the whole time I listened to it, using my free hand to google some of the words of the day: Terror. Osama. Pentagon. al Qaeda. I tried to donate blood on my lunch hour, but blood from Los Angeles wasn't anyone's priority, and an orderly waved me through the automatic doors with comforting words that suggested she'd spent most of the day ushering the lost and dazed back out onto the sidewalk.
I went home. It became night again. We made deeply insensitive and untimely jokes to see who could get the biggest and most offensive laugh. This felt better. Terrible jokes, it turned out, were the Very Best Thing, in a way that I'm not sure I can articulate but will defend because laughing that day momentarily contained the horror, pushed it out at arm's length.