11 september

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.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “11 september

  1. It’s interesting how this particular date played out differently depending on where you were/where you were from. I was mildly worried about my sister, a student at Georgetown at the time, and I watched the whole thing unfold on TV in my uncle’s basement where I was staying as a newly divorced, unemployed person. But this was in Minnesota, and I had no more real connection to the story than to suicide bombs going off in the middle east. It was just another bit of bad news of tragedy but mildly disconnected. I know we’re not supposed to say that, it’s supposed to be the pivotal and monumental moment that brought all Americans together in unity, but sitting in Minnesota it was all very far away and disconnected from the things going on around me. Although maybe that’s just because my own life was such a mess it was really distracting at the time!

  2. How do the British report the anniversary of 9/11?

  3. Rebecca

    Sad day. I remember where I was too. I was working at CEB and we had a member meeting that day, which was interrupted when we heard about the first crash. The meeting reconvened until the second crash and then I ran back to my desk to check CNN. I remember all the rumors too about the White House being under attack, etc. and everyone emailing friends in D.C. and New York to make sure everyone was ok.

    I remember walking home that day through DC and the city was like a ghost town. Walking to work the next morning, the streets were still empty with the exception of humvees and uniformed officers guarding the streets with guns.

  4. poren

    Thanks for this, Yael. (and thanks for the bravo in a prior post, Yael’s mom, totally made my day).

    To me, 9/11 will always be a day of national tragedy when I unrelatedly found out that my cat, Duke, is a girl. 9/12 will always be the day that we found out our friend, Lisa Frost, was on one of those planes.

  5. Rebecca

    Poren, I don’t know you, but I’m sorry for your loss.

  6. Ney Ney

    In one of those strange ironies of life, I found out about the Towers when I got into my car to drive to a listing appointment. My clients were from NYC, and 9/11 is his birthday. After struggling for one year to get used to DC, they finally gave up. “Come list our house,” they said, “we’re going back home. And we’ll do it on Mark’s birthday!” I thought about nothing else but the Towers until smoke covered the sky as far as I could see and word of the Pentagon hit the news. At that moment my brain switched to a silent prayer, “Please come home. Just come home,” on and on about a million times until you walked through the door. Then my body remembered how to breathe again. Peace to all of those who never heard the sound of the front door opening and closing or the reassuring voice on the other end of the phone line. We all lost more than lives that day.

  7. snosh

    i remember all of that too. i was temping at your office. i came in first to open the office. the phone rang immediately as i walked in the door and it was renee. she frantically caught me up on the news and urged me to have you call home as soon as you got in the door. i bumbled around waiting for anyone to come in. i felt hollow inside as we watched the reports on the tv at the marriott and realized that i was on the last flight out of boston to d.c. on the same airline the night before and very nearly missed my flight. i would’ve been on that 9/11 a.m. flight from boston-d.c. were i not so persistent at the counter the night before. i remember the blisters on my feet from our walking home to virginia that morning. it wasn’t the key or the 14th st bridges, it was the other one that we walked across. josh picked us up somewhere once we reached arlington. i stayed at renee’s with your family for a few hours watching the reports on t.v. … very memorable and sad day indeed.

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