...September 11th, 2001.
I had gone into work. I was at my desk - my fifth floor office. It was a beautiful day. My manager stopped by to say hi and tell me something, then said, 'oh by the way. I don't know if you heard but a plane ran into the world trade center.' I was like 'what?' and asked if it was a small plane, thinking it was some small personal aircraft that had some pilot error. I think he said he thought it was and he left.
At the time, my friend Katie was working with me so we were working on something together. We went to my office to work and were engrossed in the work. I got up to take a break and headed out to the break room. There was a small group that was congregating and discussing the world trade center. In hindsight, in my ignorance, I smirked a remark: ah, talking about the plane crash, huh? When my friend Jim said: yeah...the two planes. I stopped, my heart dropping: *two* planes? I thought there was only one? He said: no there was a second. Did you hear about the Pentagon? And I remember my legs shaking, my heart stopping, and feeling like I was in a different world.
Then pentagon? Yes, a plane crashed into that too.
I was stunned. And I knew *no one* in NYC, who worked on the World Trade Centers, nor did I know anyone in DC at the Pentagon. Yet I fell into some fog just from hearing what was happening.
I walked into my office, shut the door, and explained to Katie what I just heard. We immediately went to the internet to see what was happening. And this is where we would remain for the next several hours. The clock froze and we just stared into this screen, looking at a world we never knew existed.
I remember watching when the first tower collapsed. The newscaster had been talking the entire time and had taken a break from his commentary. Katie and I watched as the tower fell and I remember thinking: did something happen that they are replaying something else? Is this live? I remember knowing what I was seeing but not believing it was happening. And the newscaster was still not talking so I thought it must not really be happening. We just sat for what seemed for minutes but actually just seconds until the newscaster started talking, in the most distressing sound I ever heard, saying: Oh my god. Oh my god. I cannot believe this is happening. The tower is collapsing. Oh my god. All those people in there. They're gone.
I don't know when I left work but it wasn't too much later after all of this happened. I picked CJ up from the daycare. All I knew was I wanted her with me. I just felt like I needed to be with my family. I didn't feel I was in danger but I felt like my perfect world was over -- to think about what happened to all of these people...for what reason? Since we still didn't know what was behind all of this...it was like: why? I remember thinking that I was in a similar stupor when Columbine happened...how something that seemed to be something less dreadful: a small aircraft accidentally flying into the trade center...or in Columbine's case, some stupid kids killing one or two kids -not that I am downplaying two deaths - but to be so far off from what was originally in my head to something so catastrophic, it just does something to a person that all they want is to be with their family. At least that's how I felt.
Tim made it home and we just sat the rest of the evening watching the disaster unfold.
September was a time for Tim, CJ and I to go on vacation. CJ was only three at the time so we weren't bounded by a school calendar. September the weather is wonderful at Hilton Head, South Carolina and less crowded after Labor Day. We had been going every year after CJ was born. We didn't know if we should go after this, since it was just days after. I remember Mayor Guliani stating "we need to get back to normalcy" and despite feeling guilty, we went anyway.
It was somber. There were others on vacation and we all seemed to walk in a fog. Every day, Tim or I would grab the paper and read the latest, which wasn't much other than photo after photo of missing people posted by their family members. I have all of those papers in a box in our basement. I saved every one of them. Remembering those days right after is a memory I won't forget and is very different to what the "feel" is now...