Thursday, September 11, 2008

I remember.

On September 11, 2001, I was living in DC, and both my apartment and office were in Georgetown, a mere 5 blocks from each other. I remember the morning as one of those gloriously bright, deliciously warm mornings the fall can occasionally delight us with - I even remember regretting the choice of wearing a sweater as I walked to work.

The moment I came in the building, I knew something was wrong. Everyone who was in the office a bit before 9:00am was huddled around our conference room television set, watching the news of the unthinkable. I remember that we collectively thought it was an accident of the most horrible kind. Then the other plane hit, and we knew this was no accident.
My mother was at BWI airport, awaiting a flight to Tucson, Arizona - I tried to call her cell phone, but to no avail - the lines were jammed. She said that just after the first plane hit, simultaneously all of the televisions in the airport turned off, and everyone’s, EVERYONE’S cell phones began ringing.

As the events in New York unfolded with more and more madness, I looked out the window of our conference room - we were high up the first hill on Wisconsin Avenue from the river, and had a fairly perfect view of the Potomac, the Pentagon, and Rosslyn. I saw planes fly along the path to Reagan National dozens of times a day, so I disregarded the plane I was seeing - in fact, I don’t even remember seeing it bank sickeningly toward the Pentagon. All I remember is the explosion, and the scream that came out from my guts as the fireball blew into the sky. My husband and I saved my answering message to him from that day for quite some time. In recalling it, he said, “I’ve never heard you sound like that before, and I hope I never do again”
We, the people of DC were the walking dead that day. Scores of businessmen, retail clerks, waiters, and more just wandered around in the hours following, trying to figure out what the hell to do aside from gluing ourselves to the television.

That day changed me in so many ways - I fell into a long stretch of mistrust, of plotting exit strategies, and of paranoia toward my fellow man that seemed to take forever to dissipate. But one way it changed me for the better is that it solidified my undying love for DC - my city, and the city of 6 generations of my family before me.

(transcribed from comments on this post)

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