Everyone has a story about that day. This is mine.
I was working at AIDS Marathon in Metro Center in Washington, DC. Despite the fact that I took the metro to work every day of my job, on this day I was driving in to work, in my ’94 Chevy Cavalier, because we had tickets to a baseball game. It’s weird to think that driving into the city, during rush hour, didn’t make me nervous. But it didn’t. What’s weirder is that if it wasn’t for the anomaly of me driving that morning, I never would have heard the radio. One of those well-known DC DJs that I grew up with interrupted my Top 40 tunes to say that one of the twin towers had been hit. In my pre-9/11 brain, this seemed no different than any other news story. I remember thinking that some rich hobbyist flying his own plane must be pretty embarrassed right now. Kept driving. Few minutes later. Other tower hit. The moment when I realized, like millions of others, that something was very wrong. I parked my car and ran into work. At this point in my life (at too many points in my life) I had a boss who intimidated me- who seemed to disappoint easily and not condone frivolity in the workplace. I couldn’t believe it, but I actually ran into work yelling that we all needed to go across the street to The Marriott because they had a tv in the lobby. I remember writing a note to my boss, to tell him where we would be and then taped it to the front door of the office. I mostly remember thinking how rebellious it felt to leave the office without asking his permission. Which, if I can digress, is sad in itself. So my few work friends and I sat in The Marriott lobby with the ever-growing crowd of people, and we watched in real time as the newscasters themselves became surprised when the buildings they were reporting about, disintegrated behind them. Something I always realize the people on the West Coast didn’t have to do. And then we, like everyone else that morning, started walking home. The rumors that The White House was hit, and the Pentagon was hit, and the metro wasn’t running, and the cell phones weren’t working…we just walked far. I crossed a bridge, I can’t even remember which one, over the Potomac, watching The Pentagon burn, and headed home to my mom’s. Bryan came. His friend came. My mom was there. We watched tv. The next day I went to retrieve my car from the parking garage, and they charged me the overnight penalty rate. Business is business I guess. And of course nothing was ever the same. And we knew one day we would be telling these stories to our kids. And our grandkids. And they will listen politely and unemotionally, maybe the way I do when someone tells me about JFK or Pearl Harbor.
That’s my story in all its inconsequential and unremarkable reality. And I still have those Orioles tickets. Because they say September 11, 2001.
There is a bitter election contest suffocating the web all around us. If you need a break from it, I recommended this.