Saturday, September 12, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I remember the morning of September 11, 2001. It was a busy day for most New Yorkers as it was Primary Day as well as the first day of school. I voted for Mark Green on my way to work. I was hard at work in my windowless office at IDG (but it was a sight better than many places I have worked in since) on Third Avenue and 54th Street when Ginger, a department assistant who was more interested in her auditions than in uploading covers to B&, came in to ask if I had a radio. I am ashamed to say I gave her an impatient glance, thinking, as usual, she would use any excuse not to do some work. Then she said that she'd heard a plane had flown into the World Trade Center and she was worried about her sister who worked there. I told her it was ridiculous, nothing like that could have happened, and she shrugged and walked away. Then I heard the echo of my own voice, and got up to follow her. I said I knew someone who was on vacation who had a radio. We borrowed it and turned it on. I don't recall the moment at which we found out that it was true, but I do remember running down to the 20th floor where there was a TV in the conference room. We watched for a while but it seemed inhuman to watch the news while Ginger sobbed for her sister (who did indeed die that day). While Kathy Neb (naturally - the kindest person around) consoled her, I left the crowded room to return to my office so was not watching when the second tower collapsed, which I regret now.

There were many strange things about that day: the way one felt suspended in time, wondering if the world was about to end; the way the sun kept shining, and one wondered how midtown could be bright and sunny, while people died a few miles away; how suddenly the streets were deserted except for people standing in line at certain sites to donate blood; how the Internet went on functioning although phones were down; how my mother was at my grandmother's in Connecticut and said she was worried about my brother, whose first day of work at the State Department in DC it had been; how my friend Shelia, with whom I'd planned to get together after work, saw people jumping out windows and had to walk to Grand Central but still remembered she'd brought me See's Candy from a recent trip to the West Coast; how I finally gave up working and walked north, passing many other people with strange blank expressions, straight to my middle sister's apartment (the other sister was at ABC, by then hard at work for several hours) but because she didn't want the TV on to scare her toddler, I finally went back to my own apartment. Like so many others, I was glued to my TV for days, trying to understand what had happened and why. We all wondered what would happen next.

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