By Fred Mills
Seven years ago to this day – as I write, to this hour – I was placing a couple of travel
bags beside the front door and preparing to drive to the airport where I’d be
taking a flight to New York for the 2001 CMJ fest. What can I say, I’m a rock
writer, and things like CMJ, SXSW and the like are important to hacks like me.
I remember getting this momentary, very strange, pit in my stomach; it would be
the first time I’d be away from my eight-month old son, and I’d been so busy
getting ready for my five-day trip that I hadn’t realized how much I would miss
The phone rang. It was my sister-in-law: Turn the television on.
A couple of hours later I finally pulled myself away from news
accounts of the events at the World
There was still just enough time to get to the airport in time to catch my
plane. I’m not sure exactly when the FAA ordered all flights in the U.S. grounded,
but I didn’t even think to call American Airlines to check on my own flight’s
status. Instead, I did what any normal, red-blooded, music-obsessed rock geek
journalist would do: I called the CMJ
“Hi, I’m getting ready to fly up there from N.C. but first I
thought I’d check with you to make sure that everything is still going as
“We’re not sure. Well, we think so, but there might be some
delays now. We’re waiting to find out ourselves and have been trying to make
At that point that morning, everybody in Manhattan was trying to make calls – many of
them unsuccessfully. Hmmm, what should I
do, I thought to myself.
And I remember thinking this to myself, too: Goddammit, this is such an inconvenience.
I’m probably going to have to change my flight to tomorrow and…
I suppose that on 9/11 more than a few people were
inconvenienced. Casting my mind back to that point now, I can hardly believe I
would have a spot reaction like that, but of course I realize, too, that I must
have been in shock, and I certainly didn’t have all (many) of the facts yet,
either. But still… confronting my selfishness and self-centeredness shames me.
A fucking “inconvenience”?!? Whew. Needless to say, I didn’t catch my flight
that day, nor the next, nor the next. (In 2001, CMJ was postponed until
Ever since, I’ve felt this aching tug in my heart every time
I think about 9/11. It’s not so much that I have a direct connection to it – I
didn’t lose any friends or loved ones in the tragedies – but more a kind of
ultravivid sense memory that is pulled up when I think about it and ponder the
fact that had timing been slightly different, I might have actually been in NYC
(or in the air) when the tragedy hit.
I’m sure most of you can identify – maybe when someone asks you, Where were you and what were you doing when
you heard the news?
That’s one reason we should never forget 9/11. We’re all
connected to it in one way or another.