#MNR: MS. MARCY'S SONG
“All these people that you love, go ‘head and give ‘em a toast. Because if they ain’t here tomorrow you gon miss ‘em the most.”
Mac Miller (miss you my guy)
I was in the safest place in Amerikkka on 9.11.2001 – South Boston, VA, at my mama house. Won’t shit to crash a plane into except tobacco fields and the racetrack. I was working at my alma mater HCHS at the time, getting daily assignments as a substitute teacher. I had the hookup because my favorite teacher Mr. [Pedro] Zamora was the principal whose office oversaw subs. However, I wasn’t working that day because the day before was my 23rd birthday. My guys big Vinny, Rob, some other folk I can’t remember and I celebrated with a bottle of something I can’t remember in the Caravan. We drank. We smoked. We got extra wavy. I left the Hali fucked up (still respectable though) and went home at some point. I basically said all that to say that the next day of work was a dub. Nope. I mos def declined that assignment, or at least my step pop Sam did on my behalf. All I know is I didn’t answer anyone’s phone that sunny Tuesday morning. What I do remember is Sam waking me up from a deep sleep around 9. He simply said, “You need to see what’s happening to your city.”
I KNOW Y’ALL ARE UBER INTELLIGENT BUT THAT’S ACTUALLY A DIRECT QUOTE. I’LL NEVER FORGET THOSE WORDS.
I got up. Immechiately. I didn’t even wash my face or brush my jibs. Something in Sam’s tone let me know that it wasn’t time for hygiene or horseplay. I entered our den and sat on the couch, wiping boogers from my eyes. All I saw was smoke coming from a puncture in one of the towers. The hole looked like someone stabbed a piece of cardboard with a butcher’s knife or like a fracture in an x-ray. To say what I was watching was surreal would be an understatement. I couldn’t believe it. SOMEONE CRASHED INTO ONE OF THE TOWERS? I thought it was an accident. But how? Who would be dumb enough to fly into a tower? Peter Jennings (RIP KING) pondered similar thoughts. I barely had time to make sense of things when I saw the second plane hit the other tower in real time. I didn’t need Peter or Ms. Baez (my kindergarten teacher) to put one and one together to get two. I knew we were under attack. But who? Why? At the time, I didn’t make the USS Cole correlation because I’d never heard of the Taliban and damn sure didn’t know they were responsible for killing all those young men my age and younger on that ship the autumn prior. I remember the attack, though. As for the “why,” if you know me, you know I didn’t feel that way because I look at Murrica like she can do no wrong. But damn. Fuck we done did for all dis?
I immediately began to think about all my family up top. I prayed everyone was ok. Making calls up top was null and void. The grid was jammed OD. My imagination began to run for a minute. What if every plane in America has been hijacked? What if this is the beginning of World War Z?
Y’all don’t need me to keep going. If you are old enough to remember, you'll never forget. If you’re too young to remember you’ve read about it like I read about Vietnam as a kid, meaning you’ve probably read as much propaganda as truth from the very history books you were issued. 9.11 is like some Facebook relationships: it’s complicated. I don’t have the time to speak on all the filth, which basically took place from the Cold War until long after 9.11. Instead, I’ll focus on something different. Someone different.
9.11, much like the HIV/AIDS crisis and true crimes/missing persons, has captured my imagination. And, as with anything that captures my imagination and heightens my neurosis, I was compelled to do extensive research to develop some discernment from everything we’ve learned about from that day. I had to dig deeper; I have the proclivity to do so. I’ve watched extensive footage and documentaries of that fateful day, including 120 Minutes that Changed America (it’s the best IMO and a definite must watch). In my research, some of the people have become a part of my forever thoughts. One is the firefighter who was en route to the towers but got stuck in the Brooklyn Battery Park tunnel. He got out and ran to the towers, five kilometers to be precise. He helped save lives before perishing. And by the way, he’d just gotten off his shift. He could’ve gone home and watched it on television like I did. He chose to go help. His name was Stephen Siller. His legacy is commemorated by the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K (3.2 miles, you filthy Americans), held every September.
Now for the other person.
Am I wrong for looking for my-skinned folk in all those documentaries and hours of footage I’ve watched over the past couple of decades? If so, then so be it. The press would have you believe that none of us were in those towers. Fuck that. I’m gonna always check for mine. We tend to be misrepresented when it comes to counts, if you can dig what I’m saying. Anyway, in my studies, I kept coming across a picture of a young Black woman covered head to toe in dust. It appears that she was standing in the lobby of one of the towers. This young woman was as fly as could be; a true Shero. I was a young man at the time. I’ve always had an affinity for the downtown professional [Black] ladies and their fly attire. I’ve always been on that type of time. I could tell, even though she was completely covered, save her eyes and mouth. She had on what looks like a nice fall sweater, a fly skirt, and a mean pair of calf-length steps. Her handbag hung to her right side. Her look in the pic is the ultimate WTF. I always wondered what her fate was. Did she make it out that day? Yes. She made it out “safely.” Is she ok [today]? Sadly, no. She passed in August of 2015 from stomach cancer. It is almost certain the dust from the towers and the air she breathed that day led to her demise. Rest in power, queen. You are forever entrenched in my memory. The press labeled you “The Dust Lady.” I always called you Fly Ma. Respectfully.
I know I’m wrong, but candidly, I’ve always had a bit of contempt for 9.11. My reasoning is totally selfish. It’s not about the events. Lord knows it was one of the worst experiences of my middle-aged life. I still mourn folk I’ve never met. My contempt comes because I don’t get to extend my bday high. Whether I want to or not, I’m deflated when the morning of 9.11 arrives. It’s impossible to ignore it. This morning, as soon as I approached the Garden on the 8th Avenue side, I saw about eight FDNY captains in full uniform, almost certainly on their way downtown to the memorial for the ceremony. They all appeared to be in their 60s. I can’t imagine how many comrades they lost that day. Please forgive my contempt.
REST IN PEACE TO ALL WHO PERISHED ON 9.11.2001, WHETHER IT WAS THAT DAY OR YEARS LATER FROM HEALTH COMPLICATIONS.
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