Today

9_11_11

{I post today because what happened ten years ago is a story that I want my son to know... and I want him to know the history aside from what the textbooks tell him. I want him to know that ten years ago, I grew up. This post is dedicated to our friends who gave their lives helping others... and to those for whom missed ferries and decisions to get coffee saved them. You are all in our hearts today.}

It was a gorgeous day. One of those September days you live for. I was in the office early, sitting at my desk on the 40th floor of the Hancock Tower in Boston, talking to my co-worker Mina when the phone rang. The conversation lasted maybe a minute before she was putting the phone down and telling me we had to get to the studio department where they had a TV. A small group was already gathered, and together we watched the footage of Flight 11 hitting the North Tower. I remember how quiet it was as we all stood there. I remember looking past the TV, out the windows, to Logan Airport. I remember thinking it looked like an ordinary day there... planes taking off and landing. Business as usual. Little did I know...

After a few moments, we went back to our desks, numb and in shock. I tried to reach my dad who sometimes has business in the city, but all the phone lines were busy. I made it through to my mom, confirmed that my dad was not in the city, and then told her to turn on the TV. I tried to contact Doug. Mina and I just sat there, looking at each other, trying to process what we just watched. Then Flight 175 hit the South Tower.

What was going on?!

Almost immediately, "reassuring" messages were coming over the loudspeakers from the building's security telling us not to panic and that we were not evacuating. Ha! While we weren't the World Trade Center, we were a landmark financial building in a city. We had no idea the scale of what was happening... but we knew we were not reassured. Then our boss arrived telling us we were leaving... no matter what the loudspeakers told us. I remember gathering our stuff and heading down to the lobby. I remember rounding the corner and seeing the lobby filled with plain clothes police, uniformed police, and FBI agents. I was no longer numb... I was scared.

Once outside, Mina and I decided to get breakfast. This seems almost ludicrous to me now... but I guess we were trying to inject some normalcy into it all. Maybe pretend it was just a grown-up version of a "snow day" instead of something we couldn't even wrap our minds around. As we walked down Newbury Street, an eclectic street with high-end boutiques and restaurants as well as bohemian shops and cafes, we started to realize the enormity of what happened. Restaurants that should have been closed were wide open, tvs on, welcoming anyone who wanted to watch. Business men in suits were openly crying, sobbing even. And everyone was trying to reach someone on their cellphone.

I don't really remember much of breakfast.

I do remember hearing that the Pentagon had been hit and thinking "Oh my god, what is happening?!"

Shortly thereafter I spoke with Doug. I don't remember if it was the first time or not. I just remember him pleading that I get home. Home would be safe. {In an ironic twist, we found out that night that the terrorists had stayed in a motel less than a mile from where we were living.} I hugged Mina goodbye, and told her I would see her in the morning. I remember debating if I should take the T. I had no idea what would be safe at that point. I ended up walking to the first above-ground stop for the T, and taking it from there, having decided that I was too nervous to be in the tunnels that morning.

I remember how quiet the T was. You could hear a pin drop. So when the college-girl's phone rang, we could all hear her whimper "no no no no no." And some of us heard the person on the other end say "I can't reach your dad." I will never forget the sound of her sobs, the sound of her begging the conductor to let her off. I remember the man saying, "this is going to be one of the worst days in our history." I still wonder if he was just referring to those of us on the T or, if he was able to grasp the enormity of what was happening, was referring to the country as a whole.

I don't remember arriving home, or going to Doug's office. But, apparently... I did. I don't remember exactly when I heard about Flight 93, or the Towers collapsing.

I do remember the silence of that day, and the many days to follow.

I do remember the punctuating sound of the fighter jets overhead.

I do remember the candles on everyone's front stoop, amidst the darkness.

I do remember hearing of friends who were missing.

I do remember watching the coverage, the tributes, all of it. {Don't we all?}

I do remember feeling that we were all one, for the first time in my life.

But mostly, I remember those who were lost. I remember their families and friends. Today, more than anything, is their day.

It's a day where I think we all know someone... or know someone who knows someone. It's a day that touched us all.

I love New York. Always have, always will. And today I love it just a little bit more.

 

{Thanks to Doug for helping me find the perfect video.}