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Soup of This Day #63: Dancin’ In A Sky Filled With Light

September 6, 2011

September 11, 2011 Light Tribute to WTC
The Tribute in Light, September 11, 2011 – Photo: David Shankbone, 2011. David Shankbone is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

A while back, not so long ago now it seems, I was playing football on a Tuesday night in Perth. We played an evening game, losing it I think. I don’t remember much about the game, we lost a lot of them and mostly it was a struggle to get a sober team on the pitch. What I do remember is walking off at the close of play. Players from other teams were gathered on the sidelines, awaiting their match, which presumably was following ours. As I walked past them I overheard snippets of conversation, talking about some movie they had seen I guessed. An action flick, some drama maybe, sounding like a Die Hard kind of thing.

Something didn’t tally quite right though.

I remember asking my brother as we walked out to the carpark something like, ‘What movie was that they were on about?’ He shrugged and we all set off for home. My brother dropped me off at my Subiaco flat and I staggered up the stairs and threw my boots into the bedroom. For the next quarter-hour or so I mucked around, doing what I don’t know, most of those details are lost to me. 1 thing I do remember is that I kept my shin pads on. I had wrap-around Puma models, like heavy socks with Kevlar plates around the front and ankles. After games I’d tend to pull my socks down but I’d leave the guards on – laziness and habit I guess.

After a time I remembered the guys talking about the movie and how odd it felt and somehow this compelled me to turn on the small battered TV that my future wife had lent me.

I turned it on in time to see the South Tower of the WTC collapse.

I’m a pretty rough guy. I swear too much nowadays and a lot more back then. This was a phase in my life where I lived alone, drank a lot and treated every paycheck like it had a half-life of a microsecond. I’d have put money on me swearing and cursing like John McClane in Nakatomi Plaza with Hans Gruber and the boys laying waste around him.

I didn’t though.

Standing there in my shin pads and football kit I just stared at the TV with my mouth open. I breathed out an ‘Oh my god,’ and raised a useless hand to my mouth. Somewhere in my brain, as clear as a bell, the thought struck that the world had just changed as surely as if it swung on a pendulum, hinged on that Tuesday.

After some moments I picked up the phone and called my brother:

Are you watching the TV’, I asked? ‘You need to be watching the TV’.

‘Yeah, it’s on’, he said, and that was pretty much the conversation. What the hell do you say to what we were watching?

For the next 4 hours I watched TV. I wasn’t afraid or angry or in despair. Instead I was sad, just a deep, deep, soul-wounding kind of sad. Mourning the loss of a world that had been as much as for the loss of life.

Never before have I wanted the news to be wound back, to be a hoax, as much as I did that night. More people, far more in fact, were victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004, yet that had been a natural event. This had been cold-blooded murder on a large and public scale, driven by evil thoughts. You can rebuild from tsunamis – Once the waves have gone they’re gone. Water recedes, you build higher and stronger, and you nod in grim acceptance of nature’s whim. Evil though, takes a part of your soul and stifles all the things that are good, like hope and joy. Once you’ve rebuilt the towers they took it’s still there, a senseless stain on life that just never goes away.

This Sunday marks 10 years since those terrible events. I won’t mention it again in this blog and there are no tags attached to this post so hardly anyone will read this. That somehow feels right. So too does me giving a wide berth to the news and the TV specials on the day. Instead I think I’ll dig out my shin pads, maybe call my brother and see if he wants to go have a kick. Who knows, perhaps The Noah will come and watch.

The stain might not go you see, but it will fade in the sunlight.

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