9.11.2008

Where were YOU?

For a few months during my time at the legislature, I worked from 10am-7pm to give our division more coverage.  On September 11, 2001, I was getting ready for work in my cozy duplex apartment off Wade Avenue in Raleigh.  Since I lived alone, my morning routine was to get up and turn the radio on to keep me company as I got ready for work. I usually listened to G105 since I knew they'd make me laugh.

That morning, as I turned off the shower and was drying off, I realized that G105 wasn't broadcasting laughs or even more than one voice.  All I could hear was Bob sounding more serious than usual. The stereo was in the living room so I went in for a closer listen. I thought I'd walk into some sort of "breaking news" report regarding the weather, or a bad wreck, or something they were reporting on and letting listeners know they'd keep up updated throughout the day. I can't remember any of Bob's exact words, but I remember being alarmed and my first instinct was to think "what a disgusting and inappropriate joke." But...he kept talking about the World Trade Center, and he kept being serious and no one was breaking in saying "hahaha, we're just kidding."  I even wondered if for some strange reason he was reading an excerpt from a new book. I had many thoughts in just a matter of seconds, but it was becoming clear, this was real.

I was alone, and couldn't think of what to do next. I remember going for the phone, then passed it up for the remote and turned on the TV. That's when I was able to confirm that Bob really wasn't joking. I remember the first image I saw of the first tower with smoke billowing from its upper floors.  At the time, it was the only building to have been hit. I sat down on my futon with my wet hair wrapped in a towel and just sat there...confused. They showed New Yorkers staring toward lower Manhattan with fear, confusion, and disbelief in their eyes. They were running, walking, biking - whatever would get them the hell out of there, they were doing it. Then they broke in with news of the Pentagon having been hit and they cut to a shot from somewhere around DC, and all you could see was smoke billowing up over some trees with the caption at the bottom indicating  that the Pentagon had been hit. It was at this point in the broadcast, that the anchor indicated that the United States was clearly under a terrorist attack.

WHAT?! Now I was really scared. I remember having this overwhelming feeling that I needed to hide underneath something and that any moment a huge bomb was going to be dropped on top of Raleigh. Then I panicked because I was alone, and then I called Seth. Seth worked different hours than I did, and since no one watches TV while at work, I didn't know if he knew yet. But when he picked up, he clearly knew and said most people in the office were gathered around a TV near the receptionists' desks. Seth and I had only been dating a few weeks at this point, but all I wanted to do was get to work as quickly as possible and stay with him all day.

I remember what I was wearing. I wore a black skirt with tiny white pin stripes running diagonally across it from The Limited, a black sleeveless sweater from Banana Republic, and my black beaded flip-flops from Target. I wore my glasses and I scrunched my hair and wore it curly. I can only assume I decided to go with that hair because it was the quickest style I could make and I was anxious to get out of the house and near someone I loved. When I got to work, I went straight to Seth's floor rather than mine. We worked in the same division, but on separate floors. Most people were still at the TV and I remember walking over to Seth and standing as near him as I could without crossing the line so as not to be inappropriate. We watched the TV for a while and at this point, the 2nd tower had been hit. Then we went to Seth's office. I remember trying to go to my own office, but it was just weird. No one was really working. No one could put this out of their minds. The whole day, as far as work goes, was a wash.

Seth and I went back to my apartment to watch the news during our lunch hour.  I think we stopped and got Subway on the way there. I didn't want to be by myself for a minute. It was strange. Even after we heard of Flight 93's crash and it seemed the worst of it was over, I just kept wondering "Are we next?" The rest of that day is a blur, but I have such clear memories of that morning and I think I always will. We went to my parent's house that night and kept the news on constantly. I can remember trying to take a break from it to watch something else, but it didn't feel right. It felt like laughing right after a funeral - just not right.

Today, I'm remembering those events from 7 years ago, and I'm thinking about all those families who lost husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents or grandparents, and I'm thinking about those who lost their lives.  I'm thinking of New York and DC and Pennsylvania. I hope everyone just thinks today.

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