11:27 p.m. | 2001-10-02

And so it continues, this vicious circle.

I left work and head to Pier 1 Imports, which I find against everything I believe in as it is a nationwide chain selling mass produced cheap imports, but I throw it all to hell, saying this is what these terrorists want to end, so fuck them, I'm throwing my money back in there.

As a personal choice, I do not patronize mass produced non-creative chains like Starbucks, Banana Republic and the Gap. But in light of certain events, I have thrown the McDonaldization of America aside and and wholeheartedly bought into the consumer-driven economy to keep it alive.

Basically, I have said yes to khaki and Carson Daly and happy meals all in the name of America.

So I got home and ordered a salad and planned to go to bed early.

I sat with my roommate, who I've barely gotten a chance to talk to as she's been with our friend in Phillie, and debate international politics.

And then we got the call," T. or P., secret admirer here. I'm with [mother of the missing and sister of the missing] at the Oak Room. See you in 15 minutes."

That's it. And just as we did three weeks ago, we freshen up and bolt out the door.

We sat in the Oak Room, which none of us can afford, and drank like it's a party.

His mother came up to look again. It's been 21 days.

I 'fess up that I've been down there. In fact, I was there yesterday. I feel almost guilty admitting this, like I am also perpetuating the hope. But I'm not. In my heart, I know he's dead.

Yet, I went down there and stood and stared. Just in case. Maybe if he's dead and his spirit is lingering...maybe seeing me at the barricades will free him to go to Heaven...maybe it lightens the spirit. I don't. Fucking. Know. Why. I. Am. Doing. This.

But I did and it was only yesterday I was there and I walked the parameter of the tip of the island while I should have been at lunch and then some and it seems to ease her mind and it seems to ease all of our minds.

And as we drank, and I drank, for the first time, I *drank*.

My roommate broke the news that we may never have a body. And this is news I broke to her on the taxi ride there, from insiders I spoke to at the sight.

Thousands have vanished. The fuel. So much fuel. Fires hot enough to melt steel actually rapidly incinerated bodies. Hundreds, possibly thousands of bodies. They talk about ripping down the other buildings, not because they are structurally unsound, but because this many vanished into the brick of neighboring buildings. The heat and force propelled these hordes of people against neighboring buildings and then burnt them to dust, leaving only the black, burnt outline of people on building after building. Not even fossils, not enough bones left to make fossils. Just outlines of bodies with black smoke. Obviously, we didn't explain this but it is the truth we live with.

And now you live with this truth too.

And now you understand the smell. And those days during the search when I had to wear a surgical mask and wash my contacts out that were filled with white dust.

This is what I knew during that time and I never told you. This what made me cry for so many hours. This knowledge is what made me cry and now you know too.

But the difference is that my knowledge was compounded by the knowledge that this ash was 6 of my friends, and others that I knew, but not well enough to call friends.

And there you have this whole story.

I told her I went down yesterday and maybe that helped or maybe it made it worse.

And his mother bummed cigarettes from me, even through she's had numerous heart attacks and wears a pacemaker. So I would rip off the majority of the cigarette and give her only enough for two drags, reminding her that she has 5 kids to looks after and she yelled back at me "6! I have 6 kids!" until I conceded, "yes, you have 6 kids and I won't take the wraith of the 6th if he comes back and you aren't here waiting for him. I refuse to be responsible."

Maybe I should have ended it tonight. Maybe I should have told everything I knew, but I think, in my strong heart, that it's nothing she doesn't know in her weaker heart.

And it's more important, for her to be alive and well for the remaining 5 kids and 3 grandkids, than to end the fight.

I'm not strong enough to tell a mother that her son is gone. I'm not. So I drank with her instead.

And at the end of the night, she asked where my medal was. They had 50 medals for the core group, featuring the saint he was named after. I never got one, because I was moved from the last row, to the first, at the service.

And so, as I confirmed that my roommate and I would accompany her to the second service to honor her son on Thursday, she removed her necklace, and passed the medal onto me.

And here I sit, with his medal, warm from his mother's neck around mine, telling you what has happened on the 21st day since a second plane hit his building, 2 WTC, and took a son, a husband, a brother and a friend.

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