Most of us probably know where we were on September 11, 2001. I was in Nevada City, CA attending the first day of a three week Thai Massage training course and feeling like a fish out of water. The night before, I met my roommate, a gorgeous Brazilian yoga instructor named Tania, and while she meditated, I wondered how on earth I was going to get some kind of cell phone reception in the boonies for the laptop I’d brought with me. I felt so lost; I was literally in a small mountain town, living in a small guest house that didn’t have any cable TV and all I could hear around me were crickets. Millions of them.
There was, however, one little radio, and the next morning, I turned it on, in need of some sort of connection to the real world beyond the pine trees and all those crickets.
I thought something was off when I heard about a plane crashing into the “towers.” Tania asked me what disaster movie I was playing on the radio, and I told her that it wasn’t disaster movie.
“I think a plane hit the towers,” I told her.
“What towers?” she asked.
“The World Trade Center?” Even I wasn’t sure because the radio kept going in and out depending on where you pointed its antenna.
I asked our instructor and host who owned the property what was going on but she didn’t know. Except for that one little radio that relayed panic-filled news broadcasts, it was all that connected us to the world outside. Well, that and the neighbor up the hill who came over with a burn on the side of her nose after lighting up the bong wrong that morning.
After I managed to get a hold of my younger brother who lived in New York then, and my cousin who worked in Tower 10 (we wouldn’t hear from her until 1 or 2 am the next morning when the bus she’d gotten on right after the second plane hit – and she saw it – finally arrived in Staten Island), the Thai Massage class went on as scheduled after a ritual cleansing of smudging and meditation. What else could we do but go on, our teacher, Janice said. So we went on and bonded as a group, learned a healing art and did our best to bring light into the world.
When I returned to L.A. weeks later, it was a changed town. I could feel it in the air, hanging like a shroud over the city. I felt I’d been on a desert island, cleansed in every way, never expecting to encounter the shock that lay upon the city and the rest of the country. I saw the magazines and caught a glimpse of the images that left a nation and the world reeling and I looked away. Where have you been all this time? How could you not know? my friends asked. Later on, they’d tell me I’d been one of the lucky ones not bombarded by images of destruction and despair again and again and again.
That’s when I set back to work doing what I loved then, massage, but this time armed with something else – the skill and friendship I was blessed to experience in that little mountain town called Nevada City, where deer would come up to feed on the low-hanging apples from the tree next to our window at night and where we’d lie on the driveway to look up at the stars and talk about life – and ourselves.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?