Friday, September 9, 2011

My 9/11 Memory

It is ten years when the world changed irrevocably. I keep hearing snippets of people's recollections of that day. Many speak of the clear, beautiful sunny day.  I don't have that at all.

My day started early. The kids were in nursery school but there was no school that day because it was Primary election day in NYC.  We were living in a sublet on East 57th Street because we were doing renovations, so I had to run uptown to our polling location.  I voted and returned to the apartment.  The kids were sitting in front of the TV watching Sesame Street on WLIW, channel 21 here in NYC. I was in the kitchen on the other side of the wall cleaning up breakfast. In the middle of Big Bird and Elmo, WLIW decided that it was important to break into the show for the live tragedy occurring.  I was astonished that the station manager chose to break in with live footage instead of an alert on the bottom during pre-schoolers' programming. Thank goodness I heard the sound change and ran into the room, saw what I didn't understand at the time, threw a video tape in the VCR, and ran to the bedroom TV to see what was going on.  It was absolutely surreal.  We clearly didn't have a clue of the magnitude.  I kissed everyone, shaken, and was off on my walk to work. Now, really, it was like a dream or maybe I should say a nightmare. Every block there were people parked with their radios on and their doors open. Everyone was listening to the news. Each block the news got worse. The second plane hit. The next block, Tower 1 fell.  No one even believed that report. Without pictures it just seemed absolutely impossible. Did you see the movie Radio Days? Woody Allen?  I loved it. I loved how he captured the event and the community of people.  It felt like that but then I got to the office and turned on the TV. The reality slapped me in the face. I am not even sure if reality is the right name. The horror?!  We didn't know what to do. There were just two of us at the office. I had an appointment with some "celebrity" that morning. For the life of me, I can't remember who.  I have wracked my brains and it's gone.  I called him or he called me and decided it was best to sit tight and postpone our meeting. We still didn't quite know what was going on.  This is all before 10am. Dazed and numb, we closed the office and I made the same walk back home.  It felt so eerie and odd. It was a communal experience though we weren't still sure what the experience was. Our nanny had arrived and we decided to continue on with the kids plan.  We really didn't know how to act. Did anyone?  We all walked together to a play date.  We left the kids and the nanny at their friend's place and my husband and I walked back.  Trying to piece everything together. The phone lines were down, but my internet was still working. I still was using AOL and I will never forget that because it was our only connection to my family in California.  My sister said not to shut down the computer ever. She was providing some news to us. They closed all the bridges and tunnels so we went to get the kids and our nanny began her long walk home. I will never forget the sight of people pouring over the 59th Street bridge on foot.  Masses of people trudging home.  All dazed. All fearful. All uncertain.  

The children didn't know anything. We were very lucky. We didn't know anyone personally. We were able to insulate them. We didn't obsess with the news in front of them. For that matter, I stopped watching local news. Coincidentally, Channel 11 began to show Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond at 11pm.  It saved me. Those shows saved me.  After days of terror alerts and trying to act like everything's fine, inch by inch, we all got back to our daily routines. There is comfort in routine for me.  

I do question all the focus of the anniversary. It seems very inauthentic. For those that lost a loved one, everyday is a memorial.  Heard the first responders weren't invited to the events on Sunday.  Really?  They should be the priority always. They are the heroes to be mourned and celebrated.


  1. I dropped Ryan off at Kindergarten and then sat with Emily in the car parked right next to his room for the rest of the morning. I didn't want to be anywhere but right where my kids were. I remember being terrified that there were more strikes to come, possibly on the West coast.

  2. September 11 was another day. Another day that changed us all. It was reminiscent of the day JFK was murdered. Or Bobby. Or Martin Luther King. All days that robbed us of our innocence, our security. Nothing will ever be quite the same. We go on, we have our routines, but we (hopefully) never forget. That day feels like yesterday to me.
    And a word about the First Responders, I am shocked and mortified at how our country has treated them. After 10 years the government has finally acknowledged that the chemicals those heroes were breathing day after day really were toxic and carcinogenic. Wow. Really????? Talk about insult to injury.
    Anyway, this isn't MY blog, sorry. I live in LA but my heart is in NYC and always will be.
    Thank you for sharing your memories and feelings. xo