Letters We Sent After September 11

I wrote this piece for City Journal after going back and re-reading the letters I sent in the week that followed. I wanted to know what I had really been thinking, not what memory told me I’d been thinking. I remember seeing the images on television, over and over, and the emotions; I remember writing to friends in New York and Washington to make sure they were okay, and writing to friends in the military and reserves to see if they would be called up, But I remember myself as dazed, and the letters suggest otherwise: I was thinking quite clearly. 

What surprised me most is that several days later, after the initial shock, I sent an e-mail to a friend asking some very sober, rational questions about what our military strategy might be. Ten years later, I’ve yet to see a coherent answer to them. 

Did you save the e-mail you sent that week? If you can bear to read it–it was very hard for me–is there anything in it that surprises you now? 

I put the most interesting ones in that article, but here’s one I left out. 

Salon reports that you New Yorkers are all having frantic “terror sex.” Evidently, heady with overwhelming emotion, you’re all grabbing each other off the streets and shagging as if there’s no tomorrow — having had a vivid demonstration that indeed, there may not be a tomorrow. Is this true? Hey, I’m terrified too, why don’t I get to have terror sex? All I’m getting is terror cat-in-my-lap.