I’ve never really sat down and written about my experience on 9/11. But as I biked my kids to school today on a day eerily similar to that day, I felt the need to get my memories on “paper”. Compared to many, my experience was pretty mundane. I wasn’t in NYC or working in the Pentagon. Despite having co-workers who were often in the Towers and living less than five miles from the Pentagon, I did not personally know anyone who was killed in the tragedy. I was lucky, in so many ways, to be unharmed by the event. Yet, just like most Americans, 11 years later I can still remember in vivid detail how my day went and I don’t believe anyone was truly untouched.
Some random disjointed memories from the day:
- It was a gorgeous morning, The weather was perfect and the sky was a beautiful blue.
- Our work internet and phone system were down, so I spent the first part of my morning shelving books since I had little else I could do.
- When I returned to my office, the phone system was back up and I had seven messages. The first was from Beer Geek telling me “I’m ok, don’t worry about me. I’ll call you again when I get a chance.” I remember thinking “duh, of course you are ok, what a bizarre message.”
- The next 6 messages were all from friends and family wondering if I was ok.
- I remember feeling very confused. I had no idea why everyone was freaking out.
- Moments later, a staff member came into the library and told us a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
- As the events became known, as the towers collapsed, as the Pentagon was hit, everyone around me began to leave. Watching the parents panic about how to get to their children who were in various daycares and schools around the city made the biggest impression on me of just about anything that day. Because of that, Jones did not go to daycare in the city and to this day, I find it nearly impossible to be unreachable during the school day. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t turn her cell off during yoga and I have near panic level anxiety if I have to be more than a runable distance from the school.
- As my building cleared out, I sat in my office (in the basement of a federal building) wondering how I was going to get home. Many people I knew were either walking home or sitting in awful traffic. I was 8 months pregnant and had taken the metro in that morning.
- I took the metro home. I was the only person on the train and in the station.
- As I got out of the train at my normal stop, it was still a beautiful day and a gorgeous walk home. My neighborhood looked exactly as it had when I left that morning. Yet, somehow, it all looked different.
The rest of the day/week was a blur of watching the tv and hoping my contractions would subside. Occasionally a friend or family would get through on the overloaded phone system to check on me. I watched 7 World Trade Center (where my agency’s NY offices were) collapse live on tv. I highlighted a map as Beer Geek drove home from St. Louis , where he’d been when the tragedy occurred.
Today is a day of many emotions. I mourn the loss of those who were killed in the events of 9/11. I honor those who gave their all to help that day and in the weeks/months/years afterwards. I miss the innocence we as a nation had prior to that day.
I will never forget.