Subsequent days and years
The next morning, I learned that airplanes were grounded in and out of the US. Had our return flight been several hours later, we would have been stuck in Guam. I emailed Gary, who had lived in NYC at the time. He said he was fine but was distressed about racism toward middle-eastern people. Like Pearl Harbor on Japanese people, 9/11 newly entered the list of racial slurs in the American language after the incident.
There were speculations in Japan, too, about the next target of terrorism. American Embassy and American investment banks clustered in the same proximity or the same building as our office. Within a few weeks, turnstiles were implemented by the elevator on the first floor.
Our management was concerned about the impact on business, as the company was about to release one of the most anticipated games. But since people stayed home due to travel restrictions, the videogame sector was the least affected by the economic tumble. Other than having had to erase the twin tower from one scene, the game was released as scheduled, and the sales took off in time for Black Friday in the US.
President Bush declared war on terrorism, and within a month, the US started bombing Afghanistan. The 9/11 attack was spoken in comparison with Pearl Harbor, which meant retaliation with the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction. Noah and I met after the war began at a quasi-British pub on the first floor of an office building with offices of many American banks and corporations. On the TV screen that normally showed sports programs, CNN was reporting the news on the war. I expressed a negative opinion on the Bush administration’s decision and asked if he thought it was ironic to kill civilians in the name of God. I had expected Noah, a gentle son of a preacher, would agree with me. Instead, in a soft tone of voice when talking to a child, he replied that they deserved retaliation for their action. Seeing my frowned face, he said it was important to discuss these things, but with the right person. I wasn’t sure he meant I was one.
A couple of years later, the war had moved to Iraq for some complicated reasons. My attention didn’t last long, as my busy life and lack of discussion opportunity had made me ignorant of the knowledge of the situation. In 2006, I was sitting at a cafe in Frankfurt airport, waiting for my flight to London. A man who sat at the next table asked me where I was from and where I was headed. I told him I lived in Frankfurt and was flying to London to see my boyfriend. When I reciprocated the question, he said he was from the US and transiting to get to Baghdad. It took me a few more minutes of conversation about his being a divorced dad for two sons and his occupation until I realized the US was still at war with Iraq. His job was to go to Baghdad to train the soldiers. When he stood to catch his flight, he said he would have asked me out had I not had a boyfriend. As I watched him walk away, I tried to make sense that the only obstacle hindering him was my boyfriend.
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