room for unexceptional stories, too
My 9/11 story is barely worth noting. I was checking my morning mail when a secretary from the next office ran in and said told us the first plane had hit. We had an hour or so of precarious innocence after that, a span of time when we could remind ourselves that, well, planes have run into tall buildings in New York before, and let's hope those people get down the stairs okay. (I can't write this without feeling nauseous, and I suspect it’s the same for you, reading it.) But when the second plane hit and those reports came in from DC, it was impossible to continue on this foggy path where our sense of security hadn't changed irreversibly in a span of two hours.
I didn't live or work near there and I knew nobody directly injured, so any claim to feeling victimized by the event was irrefutably shallow and self-absorbed. But, like everyone else who dreamed of one day making it to the Big Apple, who imagined a life filled with fabulous things in world-class places, it broke my heart because I hadn't enough time in my one year, three months here with the old New York, the one that got me starry-eyed. Like the sum of its inhabitants, New York was angry now, bewildered, bitter and overwhelmed. It was fires that scorched for a week and unmistakable smell of burnt that crept even into my corridor of the Upper East Side and it blew my mind that something this awful could happen on an unfathomably sunny day.
It's not unlike growing up, which I suppose at 25 it was also time to do. Eventually you realize that happiness less of an event and more of a contrast, something you can't really understand until you experienced the flipside. The first time something cracked me up in the weeks that followed, I mean, made me laugh so hard tears came out of my eyes and I could barely catch my breath and for that one moment, I completely forgot about the thing that broke my heart, I don't think it was funny so much as a departure, a wild, unhinged one that brought us guilty relief.
We don't talk about it, by the way. At first, we couldn't stop but if I remember correctly, at about the five to six month mark it just stopped cold. It's not that we wanted to forget it but we couldn't stand feeling so bad all the time anymore. Even a year and two later, nobody knew what to do on 9/11 what can you do? Nothing fixes it. Nothing makes it better. So, you have drinks with your friends and awkwardly bumble around the gaping void at the city's base. Maybe you even pick up a husband. It could be worse, you would think fleetingly, if you could forget for even a day that it was.
1 | Jamie | September 8, 2006 12:51 PM
It was one of those "off weeks" when I wasn't teaching networking courses for Learning Tree, and I had the luxury of sleeping a little late each morning. I had actually gone to bed very late the prior evening and was still in bed when I clicked CNN on the bedroom TV. It was just prior to the first plane. I watched in horror as CNN switched to a live shot of the plane in the building.
Having been a voracious fan of Tom Clancy & Robert Ludlum novels, my conspiracy theory lobe in my brain was immediately activated. I knew at once that this was terrorism .. especially when confirmed that it was a jet liner and not a commuter plane as intially perceived.
I was glued to the TV now, and of course seeing the 2nd plane LIVE left no doubt.
Since, every email I have ever sent ends with the tag line "Remember the 11th of September!" I will never forget about it. I will never let anyone I know forget about it.
As Franklin Roosevelt said, ".....a day that will live in infamy."
Remember the 11th of September!
2 | SantaDad | September 8, 2006 01:25 PM
Btw, this is all compounded by the fact that I worked on the 78th floor of Tower 1 for a year or so --- a few years prior.
3 | SantaDad | September 8, 2006 01:27 PM
Well said... I remember reading your 9/11 accounts a couple years ago. They are heartfelt and truly do affect me. Thanks for your point of view.
I wish we could still see that post from Alex that you read.
By the way, I'm going to miss reading your posts but I am looking forward to focusing on all your fabulous cooking.
4 | Tara | September 8, 2006 06:36 PM
I was listening to a morning radio show while getting ready for work and thought that they were pulling a very, very awful radio prank...and then they mentioned watching it on ABCNews... And so I turned it on. And the second plane hit. And I sunk down onto the floor, barely able to comprehend what I had just witnessed. I didn't want to move....didn't want to go to work... I just wanted to stay right there and not think.
I did go to work, and spent a very long day alone, constantly refreshing news websites and flipping on the tv in the spare room to see if anything was different. Perhaps they were wrong. No one called the office that day, except for my boss' wife to make sure I was ok there alone.
I went home and found that my mom had stopped for beer and wine, and we sat silently most of the night, sipping our beverage of choice, comforted only by the fact that our family was together that night, our hearts breaking for all those who weren't. My heart still aches for those who aren't.
5 | Teresa | September 9, 2006 11:17 PM
I was a freshman in college that eventful Tuesday morning - all I remember about that day was watching the news all day. Our local newspaper ran an afternoon edition with pictures that they were passing out on the bridge to downtown. My family got together for dinner that night and just sat there in silence and disbelief. Even now, it seems surreal.
A couple of years ago, I was nannying in Darien, CT and there was a traveling 9/11 display that was at the library there. There was a child's drawing of an airplane and a man with wings and in the writing of someone who is not old enough to know such pain were the words "Dear God, why did you have to take my uncle away? I miss him so much." I broke down - no one should know that pain.
6 | Jess | September 10, 2006 11:36 PM
wow deb. you bought it all back. i even remember your post long ago about meeting alex: not sitting at home and not knowing what to do with yourself. i was back in australia (although my life and my boys were in soho). that memory of getting off a 16 hour flight and hearing that your adopted home with the people you love might not be there any more. i was in transit; singapore. it was the longest 5 hour flight to perth and my telephone and email i had ever taken. not being there now, on the 11th, makes me feel lonely for nyc. like i owe [it] to be there.
Like you and Alex, the many people who met via this horrible event in our history is further proof that the terrorists did not win that day.
May love, in its many inadvertant ways, always triumph over evil. Thanks for your post and reflections Deb.
8 | Rochelle | September 14, 2006 04:21 AM