11 September 2006

Five years on

I wasn't going to do anything special for the 9/11 anniversary -- except go to a lecture on alternative energy this evening, though that's only tangentially related -- but I ended up taking the day off work at the last minute. This was the first year that 9/11 fell on a weekday that I worked in an office. I didn't want to be with co-workers who mostly weren't living in the city five years ago.

Watching the reading of the names of the WTC victims, I cried every time someone stumbled over the name of their loved one -- this year's readers were all "spouses, partners and significant others", in Mayor Bloomberg's words; I like the inclusiveness: there were more than a few gay couples represented.

I knew three people killed that day, none of them close friends. I heard two of their names read, one of which was accompanied by a picture. Fred Rimmele -- the reader mispronounced his name, something that happened over and over; I hope their families weren't hurt by it -- a college classmate of mine, was pictured in his doctor's white coat and stethescope. He was by all accounts, a good doctor, a kind and decent man. I remember him only as one of those disciplined fit people who got up at 5 a.m. to row crew in the frigid waters of the Connecticut River.

The other was Marnie Pont, who turned out to have been Marnie Pont O'Connell. I didn't know she was married. Why would I? She was two years behind me in elementary school; our older brothers were friends. I remember them having what would these days be called a play date at our house one time and making each crack up over the "sometimes you feel like a nut" tv ad for Almond Joy. About Marnie I mostly remember that when the 5th and 6th grade girls of P.S. 41 had a night of sex ed in the school auditorium, her name was murmured authoritatively among the sophisticated 6th graders as an "early developer".

I can no longer remember the name of the third person I knew who died, a former co-worker who had started his job in the WTC only the week before. I thought I remembered his name was Terrence Smith, but that name isn't in the list of the dead. He had been a professional basketball player in Europe. He was married and had two children. He worked in the IT department at CitySearch and was always friendly.

These are the things you remember about people you don't know well. A general outline that could describe anyone and little hints about who they might have been, what worlds they left behind.


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