“So, how long are you going to be away for?”, he enquires.
“I think I’ll leave Thursday afternoon and come back Monday morning. I don’t want to be rushed.” I pull out the calendar. “Hmmm …. on second thought, maybe not.” I backpedal.
I have left the superstitions of my mother’s house behind. I have abandoned the childhood habits of throwing spilled salt over my shoulder or wondering about black cats that cross my path. However, flying out of Boston’s Logan International Airport to New York City on the morning of September 11, 2006 seems like something that I really don’t want to do in spite of all rational arguments that it will be fine. I book the flight for the Sunday night.
Events conspire against me. President Bush arrives in New York City hours before I do, shutting down all airspace. Flight schedules collapse like the rows of dominoes my boys like to set up and knock down. I leave Boston late, only to be greeted by chaos and confusion at JFK.
“Your flight left ten minutes ago and there are no other flights tonight.” My heart sinks.
Just before midnight, hotel voucher in hand, I join a resigned army of refugees heading for the Air Train, knowing that I will have just a little over four hours to sleep before I have to come back to orange alerts, police dogs, and shoe x-rays.
The city is restless …. I am restless. Sleep eludes us.
The day dawns, it is going to be a beautiful sunny day in New York. I gaze out the window of the airplane. I’m holding a slim volume in my hands. I let Elie Wiesel’s Night slip onto the empty seat beside me and close the shade on the broken Manhattan skyline.
How is it that thou cant weep seeing thou art holy and from all eternity to all eternity? … Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency. And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me their Father; but behold they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.
I close my eyes and tip my head back, so the tears don’t spill out. We rise further above the city. There is nothing to do now, but let the hot tears come and pray.