When I heard about the blast, I called home. My nephew had heard it on the playground at school, and figured it was something else. My brother immediately went downtown to donate blood, but they didn't need it, because there were so many dead. I remember the speculations about the Middle Easterners, how it might be the same people who bombed the World Trade Center two years earlier. I remember being embarrased by those thoughts when we found out who was responsible.
Ten days later, my family was in New Jersey for my wedding. We gave a prayer at the ceremony for those who lost their lives in Oklahoma.
I remember when I was a kid that I had been to the cathedral that is right across the street from the bombing site. I remember the cathedral but had no recollection of what must have been a nondescript office building nearby, and I couldn't place the building downtown. That Christmastime we went to see the site while the chain link fence and the impromptu memorials were still up. In some ways they were more powerful than the constructed memorial that now stands.
Four years ago we went downtown with my nieces and nephews and went to the museum that is now across the street. This would have been December 2001, after 9/11, and the superlatives of the exhibits, the iconification of artifacts, seemed both poignant and pathetic. There was a room where they sat you down, and played back the only audio recording of the explosion, while you're sitting like you would be at the meeting that was going on. The individual chairs outside at the memorial, one for each life lost, are touching and profound, but I couldn't help but think about the 3,000 chairs you'd need in New York.
Downtown Oklahoma City is pretty much like any Western city these days--wide streets, turn of the century architecture, gentrification, chain restaurants. But I suppose there will always be something different from now on, a little less innocence.