Ten years ago today is one day I'll always remember. It's the only day of my life that I've thought about daily since it happened.
A few things I remember from September 11, 2001:
- around 7:30am: talking on the phone with A. on my way to work; It's by Grace we've been saved, she said. We'd been discussing a personal matter which seemed like the most important issue in the world to me at that time.
- around 8:30am: arriving at work later than usual.
- around 9:00am: rescheduling an interview for a woman who couldn't meet; A plane hit the World Trade Center, she said. Thinking it was only a little prop plane, I thought that was a poor excuse for postponing an interview.
- a few minutes later: checking CNN.com to read about the plane; feeling shocked to learn it was a commercial jet and not a little prop plane like I'd assumed.
- soon after: calling my parents in CA to say I love you. Shortly after, the phone lines went dead.
For three hours, we were stuck in the office, not allowed to leave our building which was two blocks away from the WTC. I remember feeling surprisingly calm and reading a bit from my Bible which I kept on my desk.
When we finally were able to leave the building, I tried to walk up Broadway alone, wanting space and anxious to see what was happening. A police officer stopped me though. Too much wreckage, he said.
Walking along the east side, past South Street Seaport, through Chinatown, continuing up to my apartment in midtown, I kept looking behind me where the WTC once stood. All I could see was a giant mushroom cloud of smoke. It didn't seem real, and I kept thinking -hoping- maybe it was some David Blaine or David Copperfield magic stunt. If only.
I turned on my TV when I got home and watched endless hours of news coverage. It finally got to be too much. I wanted to do something to return to a state of normalcy.
And so I baked cookies. I needed an activity that I could control. Something that would make sense at a time when not much else did. Funny how we humans like to manipulate the smallest of circumstances to feel in charge. I still do this even though I know it's illogical and silly.
But I did change in a profound way that day. The fleetingness of life was never more real, and I grasped more clearly how important it is to build and nurture relationships. We're either here by accident and we die by accident, or we're intentionally here for a purpose and thus live and die for a purpose.
What do you believe?
-dedicated to AN and MCN who were with me in NYC