Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

Happy Hour Sue asks, "Do you remember what you were doing?"

Yeah, I remember. I was at work. We lived in Philly at the time. My supervisor told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. I couldn't even understand what that meant. A plane landed on it? Crashed in the street? I was picturing some little, tiny puddle jumper. I could never have comprehended what actually happened without seeing the pictures. I imagine that's true for most people.

I worked in Center City, Philadelphia. There was no work done that morning. Coworkers were on the phone with loved ones, or trying to reach loved ones. I don't think we had text messaging seven years ago, did we? A lot of people's calls were going straight to voicemail. They let any employees leave who wanted to.

Businesses were wheeling televisions out onto the street so we could all watch. I remember standing out on the sidewalk, with tears streaming down my face, eyes glued to the screen. Then the second plane hit and the mayor evacuated all buildings over seven stories, including ours. I realized I'd been standing outside for 45 minutes and ran back in the office, knowing the Husband was probably getting worried (we worked in the same office then).

Most of my coworkers, including the Husband and I, took the train in, which we didn't really want to face at that point. We were scared. We didn't know what would happen next. In fact, I think Septa shut the trains down. Someone had a car and drove about five of us home. It took a couple of hours. The whole city was trying to drive home. We listened to the radio the whole time. We watched the television for about two more hours once we got home, until we realized it was just the same nightmare playing over and over with no new information. None that mattered anyway. Sometime in there I called my parents and let them know we were home okay. Then I think we slept for about eleven hours, traumatized, like everyone else.

Seven years later, watching this still makes me weep. I haven't watched any of the movies, listened to any of the horrid tapes. I don't believe any good comes from dwelling on it. But I do believe in remembering those who died and those who lost loved ones, learning what I can from tragedy, and I will do so today. And I'll give my daughter and husband and extra hug, and move on, and live.


die Frau said...

I was teaching in Virginia. They called us down, told us what happened. Lots of girls had relatives working in D.C.; one teacher's mother worked at the Pentagon. Fortunately we didn't have anyone suffer a real loss. I remember just looking wordlessly at one of my co-workers, grabbing her, and us hugging, just to have someone to hold onto.

My sister lived in NYC at the time; so did some of my good friends. Thankfully all were ok, but I did know two girls in their early twenties who died. Now my students are almost too young or too self-absorbed to remember it, and I'm not sure how to feel about that. I guess it happens, time goes on, but it seems almost disrespectful not to have a memory or even an awareness of it.

I'm glad we can keep going and it makes me also remember to give extra hugs to my loved ones.

3 Magpies said...

I was teaching a prerelease parenting class at the Kentucky State Penitentiary to 23 male inmates. The facility went on lockdown and I could not leave and go back to my school district (aka my real job) as teaching this was voluntary. Three and a half hours later, I finally convinced the warden to let me leave. I just wanted to embrace my children and tell them everything would be okay. Luckily, everything was okay for everyone we knew, but we still grieve with the country for those who perished.