Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years Later

I know this day comes every year and yet, for some reason, it always creeps up on me. We woke up this morning early, Pidgeon had work and I had to get a heads start on tidying up the apartment for our new cleaning lady. I spent a lot of time this morning trying not to think back to seven years ago, to the morning of September 11th, to my own personal experiences. But, it was really hard not to go back there, so I let myself remember.

The first thing that I always think about was the weather that morning. It was my perfect, Fall day. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, you could smell the change in the seasons. I wished Zaydie a good morning, grabbed my jean jacket to kept away the chill, my CD player with a new disc in it, and raced towards the bus. As always, there was that one spot on Grand Street where you got that perfect view of The Twin Towers. I don't remember if I paused to notice, like I had the first time I moved down to The Lower East Side. I had grown numb to the scenery and, since I was in a rush, didn't take any time to admire the view. I boarded the bus and and headed towards my job in Rockefeller Center. It was early, before 7:00 a.m., and I was in charge of getting to the office to prepare to put out a press release. I wonder sometimes, had it been just a regular day, with no press releases to issue, what time would I have been on the bus? How close to the office would I have been before the first plane hit? Where would all the rest of my co-workers be had I not asked them to come in early. Especially Vicky and Schuyler, who took the Path into the World Trade Center where they switched to the uptown F train to Rockefeller Center. Would they have been underneath the buildings when it all happened?

I remember Loreto, our Irish secretary, meeting me in the kitchen where I was making a cup of coffee. I remember walking into my office, putting on my computer, calling Mom to say hi, and trolling the internet for gossip. I don't remember what I ate for breakfast.

The rest of my team arrived and we eased into the morning. It was a typical day at the office: we reviewed the press release, went over media lists, split the pitching. Loreto called to tell me that a plane slammed into one of the Twin Towers. I was shocked. It was such a clear day, how could that have happened. I went into the conference room and turned on the news on the huge TV. I sat there and watched. The rest of the office joined me. People would walk into the office and just come straight into the conference room. We sipped at our coffees and ate through out bagels.

And then we saw the second plane hit. And we all knew it wasn't an accident.

I remember thinking about my sister, whose new job at Lehman Brothers was in one of the Towers. I quickly called my Mother to find out where she was that day, and breathed a sigh of relief when I was told she was in New Jersey training. She ended up stuck across the river for two days. 

The day was chaos, even for us way up in Rockefeller Center. Rumors were rampant, we heard we were a target because we were in the media center of the US. The building alarms rang out. I had to go to the bathroom. I begged my friend Julie to wait for me. I sat on the toilet and prayed nothing would happen while my underwear was around my ankles. We joined the people walking down the stairwell - evacuating the building. There was a bomb scare. It made no sense, but that's what it was. 

Julie and I spilled out onto 48th Street between 5th and 6th. A woman my age, from our office but in another group, was in a terrible panic. She ran out of the door behind us and rammed right into an older woman. The woman went down, she kept running. Julie and I looked at each other and didn't stop to help her up.

What kind of person was I for not helping her up?

We went to Wolf's on 57th and 6th, which no longer exists but my friend Kate's roommate was the owner. Julie and I stopped at the Sports Authority on the corner, so I could buy sneakers. It was the one day I was wearing heels and we both realized we would have to walk home that day. At least I only lived on the Lower East Side, Julie lived across the river in Brooklyn. 

I remember being shocked that the man at the Sports Authority charged me for my sneakers. Didn't he realize that the world had just come to an end? That soon money wouldn't matter? I paid the bill though, and Julie and I went into Wolf's. We were joined by Kate and Schuyler's friends and we sat, numb, and watched CNN and Fox News Channel. We stayed that way until after 5:00 p.m., when we heard the subways were running again. Julie and I left and got onto the first available downtown F train. The last stop was Delancey Street. Perfect for me, a long trek still for Julie. She had to go home to feed her dogs so we parted way at the base of the Williamsburgh bridge. She joined the hundreds of thousands of people hoofing their way out of the City. I crossed Delancey and walked down to Essex and Grand, and hung a left onto Grand towards the apartment.

The streets were littered with papers. I didn't realize what these papers were until two days later, when everything really sunk in, and it dawned on me that these were memos and work documents from the two towers. They had blown over to Grand Street. 

I forgot about Zaydie but figured he was at shul, where he usually went, to daven mincha. I didn't think about the week to come, how nothing would move below 14th street except for rescue workers, how the supermarkets would be bare, how our neighborhood would be silent because of all the loss. 

7 years is a long time, but for these memories, it's not long enough. May the World never see such hate and destruction ever again.

May the survivors and the families of the victims continue to heal.

And while I might be 6,000 miles away from New York City, I hope that I'll never forget what happened on September 11th.

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