Monday, September 11, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
It doesn't seem like five years ago.
I was at an early morning meeting in my company's other office in Tarrytown, New York listening to presentations by vendors. The first meeting had just ended and another vendor was setting up when the first group came back and said they didn't want to be the bearer of bad tidings, but that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. We all got up and went into a central area where people were watching the television. My first thought was "what a terrible mistake the air traffic controller must have made." But when the second plane hit we knew something was terribly wrong.
We tried to continue with the second presentation (this being corporate America) but shortly into it someone came in and said "They're gone. Both towers are gone." We didn't understand how that could be but then we all went to watch the TV and saw that it was true. No further presentations took place and we all just watched as the coverage continued.My husband worked in the city at that time, not far from lower Manhattan, but I couldn't reach him by cell phone because by then the cell phone circuits were all overwhelmed. I checked my voicemail at work, and found to my relief that he had left me a message that he was OK.
By noon those of us from New Jersey decided to head back home. I was nervous going over the Tappan Zee bridge - looking above me for any planes coming out of the sky. I'll never forget how beautiful the weather was that day - to this day any time there is a crystal clear blue sky and a certain feel to the air, I think of 9/11. I'll never view a day like that again without a sense of forboding. Today, appropriately, was much like that day.
My husband was one of the lucky ones - he got out of Manhattan by about 3 p.m. and was able to let me know that he'd be taking a train from Penn Station to South Orange. I went to pick him up and on the way back had my only view of the towers burning - from a bridge with a view of Manhattan. My husband, however, had seen the second plane hit, people falling from the towers, and saw the towers collapse. It was from a distance but seeing something live is very different from seeing it on television. He wasn't himself for a long time.
The days after that are a blur - all I remember is it being very very quiet as no planes flew over except for the occasional fighter jet; the sky continued to be that almost supernaturally clear blue. We read account after account of people's experiences in the newspapers, unable to stop reading about it.
It feels odd to be working on this day, and going about our usual business. But today is also the anniversary of a friend of mine; children's birthdays are being celebrated; and meetings are taking place that had to be scheduled because it was the only time people were available.
I suppose people felt like this on December 7th for a very long time but now we don't think about it that much anymore. I guess eventually that will happen for September 11. But not to anyone who lost someone or remembers it personally.