I've been hemming and hawing about writing this post, I really don't want to be a Debbie Downer. But I can't believe it's been eight years since 9/11. That's a long time, when it's still so fresh in my memory. It's not something I talk about much with people, especially Mike. The days that lead up to the Anniversary are sometimes harder than the day itself. So I think it would help me to blog about what that day was like, just to get it out of my mind a bit.
That Tuesday was absolutely gorgeous. Blue skies, no humidity, the temperature was in the 70's. I was in Queens on my way back from an early appointment, and listening to Howard Stern. He started talking about the first plane hitting the WTC, which seemed bad, but we had no idea how bad it was going to get. The second plane hit. My cell phone stopped working, my last call was to my dad, we spoke about the planes but he said not to worry because everything would be fine. I inched my way down the highway, and decided to stop home before getting the subway to work. When I turned on the TV I saw how bad it was. Mike called on the land line, his office was downtown, and he said things were getting scary. He saw the first plane hit as he came out of the subway, he called his Dad in the Adirondacks to find out what was going on. He sat on the fire escape of his building with his coworkers, no believing what he saw. People leaping out of the WTC to their deaths. I told him to come home, just start walking and come home.
Mike started walking with hundreds of other people, most of them started running as they passed the Empire State Building, because they thought that was the next target. My sister worked at Homeland Security at the time, her boss ran into her courtrooom and said we were under attack. The thing that stands out in her mind is all of the shoes in the streets, shoes people kicked off their feet as they ran, shoes from God knows where else.
Mike got to the 59th Street Bridge that leads into Queens when he called again, we were on the phone as the second tower fell. I told him they were all gone, I couldn't believe all those people were gone.
I couldn't take it anymore so I turned off the TV and went outside. Right outside my front door was a National Guardsman holding a machine gun. I walked to the bodega next door and bought a beer, even though it was 10:30 in the morning. We lived 10 blocks from the entrance to the Triborough Bridge, and I couldn't get over the silence. Cars and tractor trailers just sitting there, with the engines turned off, listening to their radios. Mike got home and the rest of the day we sat there, we managed to get a couple of phone calls from family, but the phones didn't really work. We finally got a call at 11:30 that night, from our friends K&C. It was their wedding anniversary.
The next day I got up and went to work. It didn't make sense, but in a way, it did. I wanted to show those f**kers that they didn't change my life even though they tried. Have you ever seen that Tom Cruise movie Vanilla Sky, there is a scene where Time Square is empty? That is exactly what it was like. It was so surreal, it was like a movie. That weekened Mike and I went out and bought some things that the recovery workers needed, gloves, spray paint, etc., and brought them down to Ground Zero. On the walk over, we kept noticing pieces of paper that were floating around, charred around the edges. They were memos, reports, things from different offices.
It was hard working at a newspaper during this time. It was hard reading a newspaper during this time. Reading every day the new list of people who were identified. Seeing all the Missing Person flyers everywhere. My boss' wife had her baby on 9/11. In the days that followed, he enjoyed his newborn son, while attending 30 funerals. I did a double take whenever I saw a plane in the sky. We were in The Gaf, our favorite bar on the West Side, the night of the Concert for NY. It was weird to be in a bar that was usually loud and fun, it was silent as we all watched the concert on tv and drank our beers. We drank a lot that month.
A few months later my brother and sister in law came down for a visit, and we brought them down to Ground Zero. My brother in law couldn't get over the cross that was found in the rubble, just two pieces of steel that became a cross, and where prayer services were held for the recovery workers. I truly think that cross is meant as a message. The one thing I get comfort from out of all of this, is the hope that when those poor souls perished, that God was there to bring them to heaven.