9/11/2001

I still remember that morning. I think we all do.

Even though I had just returned from an out of town trip the night before, I was actually up and out of bed before 9:00am. I headed to the living room, watching “The Today Show” while eating my breakfast. They were about to end their broadcast for that morning – and I was about to head back to bed for a few more hours of sleep – when the first plane flew into the Tower…

The rest of that day was filled with panic, tears and confusion. I tried calling my parents, but the phone lines were jammed; however, I did eventually get through to one of my aunts and my mother. My father was still in his office in DC, but he was out of harm’s way. I called my brothers. Don had just left his daughter with the baby-sitter, and was getting ready to head back to pick her up. Mike had not heard of that morning’s news until I had called him. Jay had already been told to stay home since his office building in L.A. was a “possible target”. Thankfully, most of my friends in New York City had already contacted me via e-mail, or were chatting with me online. Don’t you think you should get off your computer to free up the phone lines up there?

Eventually, I made my way out of the apartment – away from the TV – and headed over to the hospital to meet Steve for lunch, and some hugs.

I had expected a bit more angst at the hospital regarding what had happened that morning in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, but things were strangely calm. In fact, it almost seemed like some people there – patients and staff – had not heard of that morning’s events yet. It was both calming and confusing at the same time.

*****

A few months later, Steve and I drove up to New York City with some friends for a weekend of fun in the Big Apple. It was their first trip to New York City. As we neared the end of the New Jersey Turnpike, I turned to my right, and noticed What Was No Longer There. If I hadn’t been the one driving the car, I probably would have broken down in tears right then and there.

-Did you guys ever go to the top of the World Trade Center?
-Actually, we did go into the Towers, but since it was cloudy that day, we didn’t go up to the Observation Deck. I guess we should have.
-Well, at least you got to see them.

*****

In the spring of 2006, my friend, Andy, came up to New York City for a visit. Somehow, during the course of our wandering around the city, we ended up around the World Trade Center site. We decided to walk over. I think that was only my second or third time down there.

I could already sense the anxiety building up inside of me when I was just a few blocks away, and as I approached the sidewalk… The tourists having their pictures taken in front of What Used To Be There, smiling and waving and laughing… The streets vendors selling framed pictures of the Twin Towers before, during and after the Event… I walked over to Engine Co. 10… I started to read the Names…

I grabbed Andy’s hand, “I need to get out of here.”

*****

9/11/2008

I did sleep in this morning, and when I turned on the TV and saw and heard the reading of the Names… Yes, I cried again.

*****

A few months ago, I found myself heading back from a friend’s place during the early morning hours. He happens to live just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. I guess I decided to test myself, so I walked over the fencing and barricades. I started looking around. I even read the Names. No tears this time, just Acceptance. There were no vendors, no tourists – although, I guess I was a tourist at the overnight hour. There were a few security guards, construction workers and policemen walking around, but, for the most part, it was just me and What Used To Be There. And my camera.

It was comforting and encouraging to know that there could still be moments of Calm and Peace and Respect amongst all that steel, concrete, machinery and scaffolding. Nothing will ever be able to replace what We lost seven years ago, but it’s good to know that Life has gone on since then. And still does.

Always Remember, Never Forget.

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