Since I took down many of my earlier archives, here is a repost of what I wrote on Sept. 11, 2001. I was 25 years old.
(It’s 1 p.m. EST. The ticker runs across my t.v. repeating the terror. Dan, Tom and Peter interview, hypothesize and wonder. I wonder. I pray. I hope you do too.)
(Only the workout center at my office has televisions, so after listening to CBS on the radio, connected to someone’s little Mac speakers, we made our way over there. After standing on a treadmill, overtaken by chills and fighting back tears, I grabbed paper off the gym printer. I sat down and wrote. Like a cub reporter I took notes. Names, quotes, information.
We watched Rick Leventhal of FOX News stop soot-covered cops and frightened New Yorkers as the dust from the first tower billowed down the street. When the second tower fell, Rick was gone – consumed in raging debris. FOX News went on.)
We crowded into the gym, perched on treadmills and stationary bikes, as the World Trade Center Tower 1 crumbled to the ground. A man named Angel told the reporter that the sky turned dark like snow.
Another man, Matthew Garth, told the world that he was in the restroom when the ceiling collapsed. “I just had to call my wife.”
An executive type man reports that he saw people jumping out of the WTC.
The smoke pervades Manhattan, creeping around the buildings, down the avenues and into the subway stairwells. Only one tower stands. The skyline forever tattooed by terrorism.
The pentagon. The military safehouse destroyed. A construction worker, or perhaps a cabbie, his car masked by dust, named Artie said “My heart’s in my mouth. There’s no words. A bomb coming out of the goddamn sky.”
A car bomb just exploded outside the State Department.
What about the second plane? Where did the second plane come from?
“Back it up!” they scream. The camera turns sideways as its operator runs away from the falling sky. “There it goes!” he yells. And they’re gone. The towers are gone. The gasps invade my ears and tears finally come.
The Statue of Liberty peers across the harbor at the empty skyline, where the two towers once stood. The landscape forever, forever changed. In a moment.
They’re saying it’s the Democratic Front of the Liberation of Palestine. How do you hijack a plane inside the United States? How does that happen? How does it get from Boston to New York City and quickly overtaken, without alert, without a word?
The volcano of destruction spews ash of betrayal.
10:40 a.m. EST
They’re already recapping the morning’s events. But this can’t be over. The West Coast is just now waking up. Now there’s a plane crash just south of Pittsburgh. Now everyone is hypothesizing.
I think the entire company is in the gym now. Tearstained faces covered with fear for family and friends; lovers and loved ones who live in NYC and DC. What about Chicago and Los Angeles? This can’t be over, can it? The military command center is still operational.
You feel so safe here. I board planes all the time without a moment’s thought. This morning, wives dropped off their husbands; mothers crept into children’s bedrooms and kissed them good-bye. Then they all climbed onto Flight 11, bound for LA, with nary a thought. Suddenly the world’s greatest disaster was unleashed.
Manhattan’s blackness is pervasive.
In slow motion they play the second 737 slamming into the tower. I can’t even begin to think what images flashed in the minds of the passengers when they saw their imminent death reflected in the glass of the tower.
And as they keep replaying the explosion, they speak of Pearl Harbor. They speak of a day that will live in infamy. But unlike December 7, 1941 the entire country has been able to watch this day unfold horror by horror.
Today the sky will be empty.
By 11:04 the gym had emptied. The CEO called us down to the fire pit and sent us home. “Be with your friends and family,” he said. They closed all our stores.
Like ants our cars snaked out of the campus. I went home, turned on the news, hugged Montego and waited for Miranda and Mo. At least here, surrounded by them, I’m safe.