Tag Archives: September 11

Here Again

We are here again. There have been 12 years of after in between then and now. There have been many tragic events around the world since then and inumerable happy ones. This year I want to focus on what I am most thankful for.

Thankful List

  1. My beautiful daughter and husband
  2. My health
  3. We have a loving home and my kid gets to grow up in it
  4. My friends and family (especially my in-laws)
  5. My mom beating cancer
  6. I am employed
  7. I still have a sense of humor
  8. My husband still has a sense of humor
  9. My daughter is a theater kid
  10. The kindness of strangers
  11. My sweet cats even though they are destroying the loveseat

I love you all, even the haters. Hug everyone today. Be kind.

Peace.

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Where were you?

I know I’ve written about this many times here but I wrote this comment in reply to the question, “Where were you on 9/11?” here. I thought that it had some details that I had never shared with you before so here goes:

My husband and I had moved out of Brooklyn on September 10, 2001 and September 11th was my first day commuting into my Wall St area job from the Hudson Valley. We took the train to Hoboken and I transferred to the path train and got off at the World Trade Center. I was looking for a specific magazine and stopped at a newsstand before I walked out of the building. I had crossed Church Street and was looking in the windows at Century21 thinking how much I was going to enjoy my new commuting route. Then I heard the loudest plane I had ever heard. It was so loud I had to put my fingers in my ears. Then moments later I heard and felt the impact of what I now know was the first plane hitting the building. I thought it was a bomb and remember thinking, “this is where I die” as I ran down the street and across Broadway. The ground undulated underfoot and I remember cabbies standing next to their stopped cars pointing upwards. The plane hit on the opposite side from where I was so when I looked up I couldn’t see it. I thought that some kind of media stunt had gone horribly wrong since there were papers flying everywhere. I know realize that they were papers from people’s desks and filing cabinets up in the tower. I rushed towards my office which was across town from the WTC. I was very upset and crying and trying to reach my husband on my cell phone. I stranger saw me and told me not to worry that everything was going to be alright. He hugged me and when we said goodbye he was walking towards the towers. When I got to my office everyone was freaking out. There was a window in the corner of our floor where you could see the towers and everyone was crowded around it and looking when the 2nd plane hit. I had NPR on the radio and when I heard that there was an unaccounted for plane and that the pentagon had been hit I knew that I needed to get out of there. My husband and I planned on me getting up to times square where he was working and then we’d figure out our escape plan from there. The only way to get there was to walk so I started out trying to stay as far west as possible. I had just started and was right by the South Street Seaport when the first building came down. I remember people screaming and running in all directions. I could see the top of the tower collapsing out of view. I decided after that to not look back anymore. When the 2nd tower fell and I was already on Broadway in the Soho area, I didn’t even turn around. People all around me were pointing and staring openmouthed downtown but I kept walking up. I stopped briefly at my friend’s apartment on 19th street for a little moral support. I wasn’t able to reach my husband on my phone anymore – we didn’t have texting then – so I just sent him mental messages and counted the blocks as I walked and walked and walked. All around me New York was being New York, amazing and beautiful and so sad and broken. We didn’t even know how sad yet. The saddest of all were the hundreds of flyers and posters people made looking for their loved ones. I guess it’s when we thought that there’d still be people trapped, there’d be bodies to identify and not just fragments. I finally made it to Times Square. I found my husband waiting outside of his building at One Time Square because there had been a bomb threat or something. I was so happy to see him. We tried to get on a NJ ferry up on the west side but were told that it was closed. The only way out was to go back downtown and catch the ferry there. He and I walked all the way back downtown together. As we got closer we started to see people utterly covered in white ash. I remember we saw a business man carrying his briefcase. He was white from head to toe and looked like the statue of the business man on a park bench somewhere downtown except that he was moving. We finally made it back to South Street Seaport where we’d catch the ferry. The sidewalks were covered in white ash and there were hundreds of scattering footprints. People must have panicked in the dust cloud coming towards them and ran in all directions to try to escape. Our ferry ride was surreal. We rode past the end of Manhattan where there towers had been replaced by towers of black smoke reaching up into the blue sky. It really was the most beautiful day.  The ferry let us off in Jersey City (I think) and we had to walk all the way to Hoboken to get a train to come back to our temporary home. It was the longest day of my life. I am so thankful that I am still alive and that I didn’t have to suffer more than I did. I am definitely a different person now and I miss that girl that I used to be sometimes. It makes me very mad when I see people trying to claim ownership of this tragedy for their own needs. People of all religions and races were in those towers that day and they all perished equally. Intolerance and hatred drove the men who planned this and carried it out. We can’t answer this with more intolerance and hatred. I can’t stand it when I hear how everyone is upset that someone wants to build a Muslim Community Center on “hallowed ground”. Hallowed ground, really?? What about the peep show and the strip club that are also in the same radius of the WTC. Aren’t they on hallowed ground as well? Grrrr. Don’t get me started.
Thank you for letting me share. I will never forget.
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The Names and A Very Bright Spot

The Names
I listened to the names today. It took forever for my work computer to get through the “buffering” because I guess the wnyc site was getting a lot of requests at the same time. I was patient and was able to hear about 3/4’s of them. It’s amazing how easy it is to get back to that sad place that I was lost in for so long. I felt pretty good this year in the days leading up to today. But now that the day is here I’m feeling the cut especially deeply after losing Mike. Many of the name readers spoke personally about how they still miss their loved ones as strongly as ever. I don’t have a lot of experience with grief like this but I guess that the feeling never fades. I can’t help but thinking that 9/11 was the beginning of some kind of end for him. He really took it personally I think. When they attacked his beloved NYC in such a vicious way whatever faith he had in the fundamental goodness of people was attacked as well. It was hard for him to really find hope after it happened. I don’t think that he was looking hard enough.

A Very Bright Spot
I received a phone call from my daughter’s teacher today. She said that she did her reading assessments with the class today and that P tested beyond the parameters of her test. The top level of her test is a 28 which is an advanced 2nd grade reading level. P tested at a 44 which is a 4th – 5th grade reading level. Her teacher seemed very excited by this and was telling me about the plan they are putting together for P. I’m so proud of my little baby!! This is definitely a very bright spot in an otherwise sad and somber day. This is something that gives ME hope and helps me to be excited about the future. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do.

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Before and After

BEFORE

Six years ago today my husband and I moved out of Brooklyn. The next day we commuted into NYC from upstate. We took the train to Hoboken, NJ and got on different PATH trains. His train took him to midtown and mine took me downtown to the World Trade Center. It was Tuesday September 11, 2001. Ever since then I’ve always sorted my life into before that day and after that day. I wouldn’t say that September 10, 2001 was my last happy day but I certainly was carefree in a way that I feel I could never be now. Something happened inside of me as I was running for my life after the first plane hit the building practically over my head. One moment I’m window shopping at Century21 and the next moment I’m running into traffic on Broadway and feeling the sidewalk undulating under my feet. I truly thought that I was about to die right there. I thought that bombs were dropping on Manhattan and they practically were. I didn’t know if I’d see my husband again. We married only 6 months earlier. It had taken me almost 35 years to find him and now I felt like I was losing everything.

Now, whenever I look at old pictures I find myself organizing them into a before group or an after group. A couple of months ago, while contemplating my next career move, I thought about giving the ol’ acting thing a try. I pulled out my newest headshot. It was taken in the spring of 2001. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him that I wanted to use it now. “You don’t look like that anymore”, he said. I wanted to disagree with him but when I took a real look at it I had to give in. It’s not that I look so much older now (though lately, I don’t know) it’s that the headshot is definitely a before picture. That version of me had a lot of anxieties – especially that day, the day of the photo shoot I think I had some of the worst stomach cramps that I have ever had – and had certainly had her share of depression and worries but she could hide it a lot better than I can now. That version of me also had never had a child and all the experience and grey hairs (and love and joy and worries) that go along with that.

AFTER

All in all, I feel like I’m feeling stronger leading up to this September 11th anniversary than I have in all the five years before. Maybe it is the effect of time, gently fuzzing everything. I think almost losing my husband in a car accident and then everything I had to deal with following that this past February has helped me to feel more able to rely on myself and be more self sufficient. I’m still not sure how I’ll be feeling tomorrow. I really don’t want my husband in the city but he’s very busy at work this week and cannot miss the day. It’s not that I think that anything bad will happen (but nowadays you never know) I just want to have the people I most love close by. I wish you all the very best tomorrow. Hug and kiss your loved ones. Hold them close and be thankful.

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Fly the Flag

Flag

Last week I received an email that told me that:

“On Monday, September 11th, 2006, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States. Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this fifth anniversary of our country’s worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.”

I have to confess that I deleted it. I’m not one for these email chain letter things. My first instinct whenever I read one is to Google it and see if it is a hoax. I know that the email above is not a hoax. It is trying to find a way to honor those who died on September 11. But I don’t think that we do that by taping a flag to our office window. Just as I don’t see how we support our troops by sticking “ribbons” to the backs of our cars. I’ve always wondered where those things come from. Wouldn’t it be ironic if they were made by some Al-Qaeda manufacturing arm? Those guys would be laughing themselves silly as they cranked out another 100 million pieces.

I love America . . . I used to be able to finish that statement with “and all that it stands for” but considering our reputation around the world right now I can’t really go that far. I feel ambivalent about America and the flag. I feel that if I display a flag I’m saying that I’m proud of my country and all that is doing and that is not true.

How are you going to observe this September 11th? I’m far enough away from it this year that the anniversary isn’t freaking me out as much as it has in the past.(Click here to read about where I was on that day.) Maybe I’ll try to do something for one of these groups this year?

The first year anniversary was very rough. I was 5 months pregnant and stayed home from work in the city. G and I drove around trying to find a church service we could attend. We wanted to be around other people on that day. We ended up sitting in an empty Reformed Church nearby. The Minister came out and talked to us a little bit. It was another gorgeous day – sparkling and clear, just like that day. The beautiful day felt sinister to me. Much like the sunny weather we had in the weeks following that day. On the first Thursday we had a rainstorm in the middle of the night. G and I were awoken by booming thunder that sounded like bombs. When I heard the rain pouring down all I could think of was the firefighters we still thought were trapped underneath the rubble. I worried that they would drown in the water. Of course, it would turn out that there wasn’t anyone there. I think I still think about it every day. There are reminders everywhere. Yesterday P and I went to the local pizzaria – the owner has pictures and statues of little pizza chefs displayed right next to his “Never Forget”/burning WTC towers posters.

Right after September 11th I would find myself obsessively reading the Portraits in Grief that the NY Times would publish each day. They were 1 or 2 paragraph portraits that attempted to highlight each WTC victim’s life through small details about them. I felt that if I missed reading one I was letting that person’s life pass by without my notice and I wanted to take notice of them. I didn’t want to let them down.

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45 Things About Me

This was question 2 of the meme I just did and it didn’t feel appropriate to have it in there with the other questions like, what’s your favorite candy, etc. I don’t know if it tells you 45 things about me but I do feel like my experiences that day changed me forever and certainly changed our world. I often categorize things as being before September 11 and after. I used to tend to quantify the before things as being better than the after but now since having P – I have an after that trumps all.

2. Where were you when 9/11 happened?
We moved out of Brooklyn to upstate NY on September 10, 2001. September 11th was my first day commuting through the World Trade Center.(I was working at a Global Investment Bank in the Wall Street area. My official title was Senior Business Support Analyst but I was really a glorified secretary. It was a great job but for many reasons – some you are about to read – I couldn’t go back to it after my maternity leave.) I had taken the Path train to the WTC and stopped at a newsstand on my way out of the building to see if they had a magazine that I was looking for. The magazine wasn’t there yet so I continued on my way. I exited the building and crossed Church Street heading East to my office. I remember looking around thinking, this is going to be my new route to and from work. It was a gorgeous day, just the most sparklingly beautiful day. I had just passed Century21 this giant discount department store on the corner when I heard the loudest plane that I had ever heard. I stuck my fingers in my ears. Then I heard a high pitch whine like when a bomb drops. Then the impact – BAM! I took off down the street and ran across Broadway with the ground undulating underneath me. I remember looking at the yellow cabs stopped in traffic and thinking, this is where you die. My back was to the building and I was on the other side from where the plane had gone in. I had no idea what had happened and neither did anyone around me. There was paper fluttering everywhere and I picked one up to see if it was some kind of weird propaganda campaign gone horribly wrong. It was just a paper off of someone’s desk. I was running to my office now, crying and desperately trying to get G on my phone. I couldn’t get through (which would be a running theme for the entire day) and I was freaked out. I passed a man on the street who saw that I was upset. He talked to me and gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be OK. I called my friend who I knew was working from home and she turned her TV on. She told me that the early local news reports were saying that it was some kind of freak accident. I finally got to my office and was able to talk to G. From my desk I could see my co-workers looking out of the window. They were all standing there looking at the buildings when the second plane hit. I guess that some time passed – we were trying to get lines out on the office phones and we were listening to the radio – but looking back it feels like everything happened so fast. I heard on the radio (God Bless you NPR) that the Pentagon had been hit I wanted to find G and get out of there. He was working in Times Square and we decided that I would walk up there, find him and we’d figure out how to get “home” together. (All our stuff was in storage, our pets were at the kennel and we were staying at a bed & breakfast type apartment thing until we finalized where we were going to live.) I left my office by myself and started walking North trying to stay as far East as possible. Just as I was passing South Street Seaport the first building (actually the second building hit) started to come down. I heard the sound and looked up. I could see the top of the building exploding into itself as it started collapsing. People around me started panicking, knocking people over, running and falling down. I just turned around and tried not to look back. By the time we reached the Brooklyn Bridge the ash started to fall on us – like a light snow. Nothing like the total blackout experienced by those closer to the buildings. I met a woman with a cane who was walking home to the Bronx. I couldn’t get G on my phone again. The whole time I spent walking from the bridge to midtown I couldn’t reach him so I sent him mental notes and I counted the blocks. I was on Broadway above Canal St when the second building fell. I heard it and saw people stopping to look at it but I didn’t turn around. I didn’t want to see anymore. I stopped at my friend’s apartment around 14th St for moral support and she invited G and I to come back if we wanted. I set out again and finally got to G. He was standing outside his building. They had made them leave because they were afraid of the building being another target. I was so happy to see him. We found out that we had to head back downtown in order to get a ferry to New Jersey so down we went. We did stop at my friend’s apartment again to get information and she gave me a pair of socks. I was so glad that I had worn my clogs – comfy shoes – that day. There were plenty of women shopping for new shoes that day or walking in their stocking feet. I don’t think I ever wore heels to work again – just in case. It turns out that we had to go all the way back to South Street Seaport to get out. As we were walking down the air got thicker and thicker with dust and we passed one business man heading North – he looked like a ghost. He was white with dust with his suit and his briefcase all completely covered. My friend had given us dish towels to put over our faces. When we finally got to the Seaport we started running towards the water because we didn’t want to miss the boat. The whole place was now completely covered in a layer of chalky white. I remember looking down and seeing frantic footprints on the sidewalk. People must have been running in all directions when the clouds of debris came rolling down the street. When we were on the boat and traveling away from Manhattan I finally turned around and looked. The two towers, or what was left of them, were burning and sending a huge plume of black smoke into the sky above. It really looked like the end of the world.

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