Some Things Defy Words: 9/11/01

Like millions around the globe, I can't help thinking about the events that unfolded eight years ago today, can't help recalling all the lives impacted, all the grief and, yes, the surging of a fierce, defiant pride in our country and its people.

I was with a friend, researching a book and travel article in Key West, when a pierced, tattooed guy taking out his trash blurted the ridiculous "sky is falling" news to us. We didn't believe him, thought it must be some bizarre and cruel "joke" a mentally ill or drug-addled local liked to play on the turistas. It took a while for it to sink in, for more news to reach us from the guide narrating our cheesy tram tour through the city. Few of those riding with us spoke sufficient English to "get" what was happening, but we did, along with the American guide. That moment, and his false cheer for the sake of the other tour guests, stand out as the most surreal of my life.

I don't really like to think about that time and those extra days I spent stuck, separated from my firefighter husband and our young son, as we waited to get a plane out of paradise, worry for our loved ones, and mourned, as the country mourned, its loss of innocence. But just as some memories defy words, they defy a person to put them aside.

This is certainly one.

Afterwards, like so many Americans, I went on with my work, slogging past our collective post traumatic stress to complete my writing obligations. But that book was the last historical romance I wrote. And I've never set foot back in Key West since.


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