The Change

By Kimberley Jane Wilson
Featured Rightgrrl May 1999
September 16, 2001

Dedicated to the men, women, and children who lost their lives on September, 11, 2001

September 10th seems like a lifetime away now.

It was an unremarkable, plain vanilla, completely ordinary day. I went to bed Monday night thinking about the new article I was going to write. Two topics were on my mind and both of them might've turned into interesting reading but suddenly they don't seem so important anymore. Things have changed.

Like most freelance writers I still have to work a day job and on Tuesday September 11, mine took me to downtown Washington DC. My office is roughly two blocks away from the White House.

After checking my messages and going over a few files I logged onto the internet. When I read that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center I wasn't particularly upset. I just didn't believe it. Weird things have been posted on the internet before and I was just about to check one of the reputable news sites when my phone rang. A friend was calling to ask if I was safe. Confused and uneasy I wanted to know what she was talking about. She told me that two planes, not one had been hijacked and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and that another one had just hit the Pentagon.

I remember getting up and heading to the conference room where one of the TVs was kept. Most of my co-workers had already gathered there and we watched in silence as the awful pictures were shown. We were given the order to evacuate. I went to my office, (it felt like sleepwalking) gathered up my things, put on a fresh coat of lipstick (I honestly don't know why) and found myself on the street with thousands of other folks, trying to get home.

I called my husband went straight to my mother's place. She, another relative and I sat on her bed, hugging each other and watching the nightmare on TV. If it weren't for the phone calls to and from worried friends and other relatives I could have almost convinced myself that this was just some kind of hallucination. Each conversation was the same: Yes, we're okay. Yes, I saw the TV. No, I don't know what's going to happen now.

On September the 12th I went back to work for a couple of hours. Riding past the Pentagon is sickening. The huge black hole in the building looks like gaping wound. I can't look at it without crying and I can not look away. People who used to ride the bus with me everyday are probably hurt or dead. Thousands of Americans have been slaughtered and the life I took for granted on September 10 is essentially dead as well.

The men who planned and enacted the attack on America were fanatics. Most people do all they can to avoid death. These men reached out and embraced it like a lover. How do we fight this kind of insanity? How do we even begin to understand it? Life in America will go on but at an enormous price. We can either live as the Israelis do-never knowing when the next deadly attack will come or we can strike back. Neither of these choices is painless. Neither choice is neat and clean.

These last few days have been hideous. But, in the midst of grief and horror there is one genuine thread of hope. This weekend Americans of all races have come together in a way I've never seen before in my life. This cooperation and united spirit is something the planners of the attack on America never could've dreamed of. It's something they can't possibly understand. If we can just hold on to it there's no way we won't emerge from this trial a better country. May the men, women and children who perished on September 11th rest in peace and may there be peace for us, the living.

Kimberley Lindsay Wilson is the author of Eleven Things Mama Should Have Told You About Men (African American Images, September 2000, ISBN: 0913543691, $12.95). She can be found at

Copyright 2001 by Kimberley Jane Wilson. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.