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Chelsea's Big Adventure

by Chelsea Clinton

(typing by P.J. Gladnick)

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Before the morning of September 11 it was the best of times for me. I woke up that Tuesday morning feeling good about where I was in my life and happy about where I was going (to Oxford). Now that sense of security is gone, and since the 11th, for some moment every day, I have been scared. Not by a sense of immediate, immense danger, but by something more subtle and corrosive: an uncertainty about my place in the world—where I am emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes even physically.

I . . . I . . . I . . . My . . . My . . . My . . . Me . . . Me . . . ME . . . MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Anyway I remember the events of that tragic morning quite clearly. I was jogging down to Battery Park and stopped at Starbucks to get a cup of coffee. That's when the first plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

My first thought was that with the Bush tax cut we wouldn't have enough money to repair the World Trade Center. Then I dropped down on my knees and thanked God for making my mommy a senator and . . .

Oh wait! Mommy said to ditch that version of my 9-11 adventure. Here is my new version of the events of that day which is the definitive version . . . at least until modified by later revision:

Before September 11 I wouldn't have believed I had many innocences left. I had seen people who had lost everything and everyone they loved to war, famine, and natural disasters. I suffered with them and I truly did feel the pain of those photo-op props.

What I have found out is that it is hard to be a broad right now. Dirty old men who think they have the right to grope you just because they are powerful and you are a mere intern. It's also hard to be abroad since the September 11 attacks. Living in England is difficult not only because of the inescapable sense of dislocation but also because of the protectiveness, defensiveness, and pride I feel for my country.

Every day at some point I encounter some sort of anti-American feeling either from other students, from newspaper columnists, or from anti-war protestors. Why I even heard that some of the anti-war protestors were Americans. I just can't think of anything lower than an American at Oxford protesting against his own country. Daddy was absolutely outraged when I told him about this.

On the morning of September 11 (Version 2), I was snoring in bed at the apartment of my friend, Nicole Davison, when the phone rang around 9:00 AM. I was about to chew out Nicole on the other end for waking me up so early when she told me that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. Since I couldn't go back to sleep again, I channel surfed on the tube where I saw a second plane crash into the World Trade Center.

I called my mommy but the line went dead. Instead of using my cell phone (or one of my bodyguards' cell phones) to call back, I stared senselessly at my TV and then made my way downtown towards the World Trade Center towers to find a pay phone.

I walked the streets of Manhattan in a daze. I have no real memory of what happened. No memory. No recall. No recollection. I wandered downtown. Or was it uptown? Most likely it was downtown but I can't remember much so please don't pin me down with irrelevant specifics except for the fact that Story Version #1 about jogging and coffee is now null and void.

One small detail I do remember was that I was in such a daze that after walking a few blocks I noticed that I was wearing a really tacky pair of flip-flop sandals that I normally wear when shlepping around Nicole's apartment. For a brief moment I truly thought I was going to die of embarrassment.

I continued my daze walking until the first tower collapsed. My first thought at that moment was of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Bill. Then a Humpty-Dumpty rhyme popped into my head. I am still unsure what Humpty-Dumpty represented to me on that day. It just seemed as though the world were falling down like Humpty-Dumpty. Also like Jack and Jill.

I took refuge from all the screaming people and falling dust in a Starbucks (not to be confused with the Version #1 Starbucks). It was while taking refuge in Starbucks and watching the running people outside that I realized that the only things that I was sure of was that I didn't want to be crying or alone and that I wanted to talk to the most intelligent woman on the planet, my mommy.`

Throughout the ordeal I had not been able to get the support I wanted from one of my closest friends, a friend who had actually, until he dumped me, been my boyfriend. We parted because of circumstances. I was going to England and he was just flat out sick of me.

It was then that I noticed the Fat Woman on her knees. At first I thought she was praying and thanking God for making Mommy a senator but then I noticed that she was just picking up a bagel she had dropped. She was wearing a blue dress and a black beret and was scarfing down those Starbucks bagels like they were going out of style.

Our eyes met and we somehow bonded as kindred spirits. The Fat Woman told me how she was in love with an older powerful man who ditched her. She affectionately called him "El Shmucko" or "The Big Creep." I, in turn, told the Fat Woman about my sack of slime ex-boyfriend who cruelly tossed aside his sweet flower full of innocences.

The Fat Woman and I were consoling each other over broken romances when the second tower fell. Immediately one thought seared itself onto my mind: The Dingell-Norwood Patients' Rights Bill.

That thought soon passed and I recited Humpty-Dumpty for the Fat Woman. Then she recited some quotes from "Leaves Of Grass."

There was panic out in the streets and I panicked at the thought of never getting together with my ex-boyfriend again. I hugged the Fat Woman goodbye and accidentally spilled some latte on her blue dress. I apologized but the Fat Woman assured me it was okay. In fact she said she was going to save that stained blue dress as a souvenir of our meeting.

I stepped over some gasping victims outside Starbucks and thanked God for making Mommy their senator. It was really bad what was happening to them but on the upside it was at that moment that I realized I had become a New Yorker . . . Ich bin ein New Yawker!

The next thing I knew I was walking north with my two girlfriends when we found ourselves at the Met Life building above Grand Central Terminal. How those girlfriends got into the picture and how I suddenly ended up far from the WTC, I don't know. It was that daze I was in so please don't ask for any explanations. All of a sudden there was a bomb scare and people went running out into the street. I was soooo frightened. And I really needed my ex-boyfriend to hug me. Also I prayed again and thanked God that Mommy was senator. Also, to be bipartisan, I also thanked God that Giuliani was mayor and asked God to give George Bush the strength to keep the White House furniture in good shape until Mommy takes over again.

The days following the attack were horrible for me. Sometimes I had a certain clarity of purpose: other days I didn't. I wanted the ease of being truly comfortable with someone (my ex-boyfriend) and craved some good long hungs interspersed with some hot French kissing. In general I am an incredibly self-reliant person but I wailed like a banshee on the phone and begged my ex-boyfriend to see me again. He came and that weekend I laughed for the first time since the 11th. That was the greatest quickie he has ever given me. And although he made it clear that we were still Splitsville, there is always hope for me.

After all, tomorrow is another day.


from The Laissez Faire City Times, Vol 5, No 48, November 26, 2001

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