Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Ten years later, September 11th is still such an emotional thing that I am having trouble watching the coverage on television.  When we get to the anniversary it is like picking a scab you thought had healed.  I have put myself on a media lock down.  When I reflect back, I wonder how we made it through such a horrific event and have come out whole, that we have found a new normal.

The day started like many others.  I woke up, turned on the Today show and got ready for work.  I remember them talking about the date being 9-11 and thinking that was kind of weird.  I took Colin to Tricia's house and went to work.  I was doing a project and needed to run a bunch of reports and I also had a meeting to discuss the design of a new website that I needed to prepare for.   I was deep into it when my boss walked out of his office to tell us that a plane had flown into Tower 1.  My immediate reaction was to call Ann who was, at that time a stay-at-home mom. 

I was on the phone with her as the second plane hit.  It has become my definition for unbelievable.  I remember whispering because I thought I would be in trouble for making a personal call.  I was trying to sneak onto to Internet but all the news sites had crashed.  I went about my day and still had the meeting in the afternoon for the website.  Before I went in the meeting they had grounded all flights and I really needed to Fedex some drawings to a customer and it wouldn't go out. I was irritated by the inconvenience.  Right before I went in, Dave had called me to tell me that a plane had turned around over Cleveland and was heading back to Washington.   I thought it was all wild speculation and it couldn't be true.  Too much had already happened and I just couldn't believe it was still going on.  Certainly enough had already happened and we couldn't take any more. 

As I was in my meeting the towers started to collapse and the Pentagon was hit.  It was at this time that we called the meeting off.  One of the designer's best friends was a flight attendant and he couldn't find out where she was.  Amazingly, we stayed at work all day.  When I finally got home I went out to get the mail to find out that our neighbor that we really didn't know that well, had a son that lived in Washington and they hadn't heard from him.  He didn't really have business in the Pentagon so they thought he must be okay, but there was no telling what else was going to happen and where it would hit.  Public transportation had been shut down and he had to walk home.  The phone lines were jammed and he couldn't get through.  He ended up being fine. 

We watched the around-the-clock coverage.  There was literally nothing else on and it was so horrible and unbelievable that you just couldn't look away.  Peter Jennings cried on air when he finally heard from his kids.  The feelings were overwhelming and so diverse.  It was fear, intense sadness, anger, patiotism, confusion, hopelessness and despair, loneliness and strangely at the same time, solidarity.  It was truly a loss of innocence and peace.  It divided things into before and after. 

The strangest thing for me, aside from the obvious was that they suspended all flights of any kind.  We live by a small private airport and the intense quiet was eerie.  It is the same effect when the electricity goes off and then you notice the noises of the house by their silence.  Conversely, when they started flying again it was so strange to hear it again and I was strangely scared.

I remember going to church that week and trying so hard not to cry.  When I reflect back, I wonder why I just didn't let it out.  I can't believe we stayed at work all day.  I can't believe we went back the next.  I can't believe we were able to go through that time and come out on the other side. 

No, I can't believe anyone alive that day will ever forget.  I am forever changed, some for the good, and some for the bad.  I find that I am more willing to go out of my way to help others, and would like to think that I am a bit less self-centered,  but I am also much more vigilant and protective.  I no longer think that I am guaranteed a tomorrow.  I no longer believe that America is always right, but I still believe that this is the best place on earth to live and if people had the opportunity to come and see what we are all about, they would most likely agree.    I am thankful that we have been able to make a new kind of normal, but I will never forget.  No, I will never forget. 

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