Where Were You

7573995_sHere we are at another September 11th, and do you realize it’s been twelve years. At first thought, I didn’t want to write about this, again. Then, after some pondering I said to myself, I need to write about it. I need to write about it, and talk about it until I can’t any longer. Then, when I realized the official day fell on blog day that cinched it for me. This time, however, I’d like to come at the topic from another point of view. Like many other important dates in our lives, they seem to linger, am I right? They hang on, and fill our minds with the events of the day – be it good, or bad. This specific day, I believe, will go down in notoriety like Pearl Harbor, or the day President John F. Kennedy met his fate. Each one of us will remember it the same as a wedding day, a milestone birthday, or when your first child came in the world. I have often thought about September 11, 2001, and it makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because I didn’t have to endure the hardship of trying to make it home to one of the boroughs, or New Jersey from Manhattan; happy, because my loved ones were not in, or around the devastated area. But, sad because I am a New Yorker, and living and working in New Jersey caused me, at times, to perceive myself as a conformer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like conformity.

As I recall the day, I worked in Princeton, New Jersey for a Manhattan based law firm. My attorney had actually just moved from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to across the river in to Pennsylvania. I had finished setting up one of the conference rooms for a deposition she had scheduled, and surprisingly the defense lawyer had traveled to our office from Washington, D.C. I returned to my desk and went to work on my next project. My cube-mate had her tiny transistor radio at her desk playing on low when the word came about the first plane. She mentioned it, and I popped over to listen. When I made it back to my desk to go on-line, a picture of the north tower adorned my computer screen with plumes of black smoke billowing in every direction. Before I could finish reading the article the second plane hit. By this time most of the office had become a buzz. If you know anything about legal, you know that under no condition do you intrude on a deposition. Well, you do, of course, if the circumstances involve life and death, or a landmark building collapsing due to some act of terrorism.

After the failing of the first tower, and rumors began spreading of a terror attack, I had a conversation with my co-worker about interrupting that deposition. I think what happened next will stay in my mind the rest of my life. I knocked on the conference room door, opening it at the same time – all eyes turned directly to me, obviously. My attorney beckoned for me to come in to the room. I began:

“They think there’s been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,” I said, my entire body shaking. “One of the towers just collapsed to the ground.”

Everyone in the room began frowning.

“Do you mean, there is some sort of structural damage to one of the buildings?” my attorney asked.

“No, one of the towers has fallen to the ground.”

“Wa…wait…wait a minute,” the gentlemen being deposed said, broadening his eyebrows. He lifted his right hand, placed it at the table’s edge and pushed himself backward. “Are you saying one of the towers has literally fallen…it fell to the ground?”

“Yes,” I answered, continuing to shake. Only now, the tears had begun to fall.

The balance of the room went completely still. My attorney took me by the waist and led me in to the hallway, and back to my desk. Needless to say by the time the Pentagon had been hit, the Washington, D.C. attorney had decided she had better try to make her way back home.

As if it were yesterday, I recollect riding in the car with hubby two weeks prior as we traveled in the Jersey City, New Jersey area on our way to a function. This part of New Jersey sits right across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. Like the images of the leaning Tower of Pisa, you actually got the sense you were touching the structure. So, playfully, I reached out of the window:

“Honey, look. See, I’m touching the buildings.”

Just like that they were gone, and two weeks after that, I began classes at Gotham Writers’ Workshop in the Village. Did I have any trepidation about going in? Uh…yeah. But, as I sat on the train, on my way to Pennsylvania Station, we came upon a spot where the towers would normally have been in full view. The entire car went completely still, not a sound came from anyone. We all stared at the surrounding buildings, and then, the large void where the towers had been. For me I had the impression of finding that favorite old photo of my grandmother – only to realize someone had cut her out of the picture. At that moment, I grasped all that had actually taken place. If it were that way for me, then it had to have affected every other first timer on that train the very same. Tell me what you were doing?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com