September 11, 2001: The Worst Crimes Against Americans In US History- A Memoir On September 11, 2010
*Reposting this today in tribute. It took me 9 years to finally write about it last year, I don’t imagine I have anything to add. Except this- Never Forget this day, tell your babies to tell their babies. Tell them how proud this great nation is of it’s grace and poise in the face of this atrocity. Be vigilant.*
At 8 am I was humming up I-287. I had just tuned in the FM to Elvis Duran and the Z Morning Zoo because Howard was discussing his last night’s escapades and as usual, it simultaneously made me blush and wonder who else was listening to it. Siriusly.
My first distinct recollection is always the color of the ethereal sky that day. I recall the color exactly. I do not know if my cellular memory is now my SIM for the event, but it was a vibrant water- color diluted indigo with a transparency I do not think one could replicate if they tried.
It was brilliant. It was extraordinary. It was the ultimate in aerial visibility clearance for evil, I will never forget.
I was headed to my office about 20 minutes outside the city via Route 3 to pick up our graphic artist for a meeting with a client on Water St.
I was buzzing through the presentation in my head in the hopes I could stay succinct, DTCC was not one for banter or frivolousness.
I remember being distracted from my gaze out the windshield by an excited and tonally ominous radio voice:
“Did you see that? What the F*ck was that, what in the…”-
Radio silence for a few minutes. I never thought for a second we were under siege.
In retrospect, I recall thinking; “I just turned off Howard to NOT hear about some topless whatever in the lobby: I am not feeling shenanigans this morning.”
Once back on- air, the program resumed. It was announced that a plane had accidentally flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
To be honest, given my client base and frequency of trips into NYC and surrounding areas, this “accident” rose only to the level of commuting nuisance. The probability of logistical snafu however, was now a pressing reality.
I called Scott, my CGI savant and told him I felt we might be late for our meeting due to traffic concerns going through the tunnel. We agreed not to be open to rescheduling for another day, but to push back the meeting time.
You already know what happened next. Within minutes the second plane hit the South tower- we were under attack.
I write those words. I relay them to others.
However, in hindsight, there was definitely a- not- to- be- believed quality to what was happening and how it related to the world I knew.
The F-16’s zinging overhead moments later triggered a few more pangs of reality. Earsplitting reality, to be precise.
By the time I arrived at my office, staff was standing around the conference room plasma exhibiting each person’s individual and outwardly- noticeable nervous ticks.
We were however, united in our various and personal looks of fear.
Nobody knew where this was going as our computers at our cubes were dinging in the background with RSS feeds and emails announcing the end of the world. We were cemented to the live action, the white noise simply reminded us it was as bad as we suspected.
I gasped with my hands over my mouth as I saw the tower fall. I don’t remember who it was, but a woman screamed.
I remember thinking it was like a Godzilla and Rodan image, with the exception that there were people on video jumping from the building and it gripped me in my waddle.
I am a gallows- humor- gal, and as each update came across the wire or through Matt Lauer’s voice, my fight or flight response was hedging into first gear.
The missing planes, the crash into the Pentagon and the crash into the field in Somerset, PA were all kind of background trauma in anticipation of would be next.
I think of it as “fear legos”- nobody wants to think of what it will look like when it is finished.
It took another solid hour for my psych to win over the “I am going nowhere but directly in front of a news source at all times” paranoia, which had set in.
It dawned on me if there was going to be a mass exodus across the bridges and out of the city, I would be trapped for hours.
Although I opted to leave the office and head home for the 90-minute commute, I never turned my phone on.
I had already checked the kids, had our daughter picked up from preschool, got the call from the parents checking on my whereabouts from the office. I was cognizant of wasting my cell battery all of a sudden.
As I sped my way back to 78W, I passed 3 New Jersey State Police barracks as I do twice daily, however, this time there were patrol cars and NJSP SUV’s and paddy wagons parked in every possible orifice and spilling onto the shoulder.
It was clear that every available Law enforcement Officer was called in for a briefing.
I pushed the pedal to 90. No self-respecting officer is going to waste their 9/11 participation by writing me a ticket, I told myself.
If I had to define one of the foremost panic-stricken markers of this day, it would be the observations on my ride home.
As horrific as I knew in my heart the attack on our people, on our soil, was going to play out, the feeling that we were bracing for what was coming next was unavoidable and emotionally paralyzing.
The epitome of terrorism- I was terrorized by the current terror, and terrorized at the fear of new terror.
My memory of heading home that day, to bunker down with my family in the safety of suburbia felt like I was being shot through some cosmic tunnel I just wanted to be able to see the end of.
For reasons I still do not understand, I stopped at a grocery store I had never been to, 40 minutes from home and filled 2 carts without a thought of what needed immediate refrigeration or what the hell I needed bulk packs of every size battery for.
I picked up the kids, ordered my husband home and waited for the world to end *LIVE* on Fox and CNN. For almost every American, it did. At least the world as we knew it.