Beautiful days in September corrupted by the terribleness of 9/11.
September 10, 2010
The last few days in Chicago have been unbelievably gorgeous. 70 degrees with a cloudless sky the deep blue color of a mailbox. Stunning, perfect weather unlikely bested anywhere in the world. Alas, we Chicagoans know how fleeting these days are. Like Rod Blagojevich, bad weather is never far from Chicago.
But back to those mailbox-blue skies. Unfortunately, for me (and I imagine a lot of people) they are also evocative of something deeply sinister, especially in the context of an urban landscape. It breaks my heart to write this, but the first thing I thought of when I gazed upon the John Hancock building today, silhouetted against such a sky, was September 11, 2001.
The weather here and in New York was equally brilliant that day.
My second daughter, Colette had come into the world four days prior and was only in her new home one day when the world changed forever. At the time, we lived downtown, on East Walton Street, literally in the shadow of the John Hancock Building. I’ll never forget seeing my wife, her new baby in one hand, trying to close the shutters in the event Chicago’s iconic high-rise was destroyed. She thought it would keep the dust out. I didn’t tell her not to bother, that if “they” hit the Hancock we would need more than wood shutters to protect us. I’m not purpling this up for effect. On that morning, in real time, we had no way of knowing if other famous buildings and landmarks were targeted. If they were, the Hancock building would make any shortlist.
And so as beautiful as these last few days have been, they are also bittersweet. The preternaturally blue skies heighten the memory of 9/11… As does the crispness of the air… the skyline…planes.
While talking on the phone today from my office, I stared out and up into the sky, watching an airplane heading toward the airport. So clear and bright was the day, I could make out the United Airlines logo on the plane’s tail. The jet seemed on collision course with each high rise it passed over. It was eerie.
Selfish as it may sound, I was struck by the irony of having such a rare and beautiful early fall day marred by the terribleness of that one just like it nine years ago.