Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blue Couch

I bought this blue couch on September 11th, 2001. We had been looking for one for a few weeks, finally made a choice, and brought home fabric samples the night before to compare. We picked one we liked and I was to place the final order the next day.

At the time I was enrolled in a web design course, the first week of classes at the Penn State conference center.  We are in the first morning class when a buzz begins as students get the first online reports. We break for our usual coffee break and the news is displayed on TV screens, a smoking tower, an attack.  We  stare in wonder. Back to class but no one is paying attention.  People leave.  All are too concerned. Class is dismissed.

I leave wondering what to do, what to do. I have called my people. All are distressed but safe. I don't know anyone in New York who might be in harm's way. I'm not going to New York to help. I couldn't get there even if I wanted to and don't possess the needed skills if I could. So... I guess, I guess I'll just do what I'd planned to do.

I walk into the store, the clerks are watching a television. There are no other customers.
"May I help you?".
Sheepishly I say,  "My wife and I were here last week we ....."

And so almost in slo mo we complete this normal everyday transaction, that on this day is surreal, an exchange of monies for material goods. As people are dying by the hundreds, as firefighters climb the stairs, as people call home from the upper floors for the very last time, as people leap to their deaths, as all of NYC is smoke and debris and chaos and pain I swipe my plastic and sign the slip and leave the store.

I like this couch. We made a good choice. At ten years old it shows signs of wear but is still comfortable. But it will always be a little haunted.

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