On the morning of September 11th 2001 I got up like any other day and got ready for work, no television, no radio, just the morning routine. I was married at the time and was living my own nightmare so giving a shit about what was going on in the world was not a priority… I needed to get out the door and escape my supposed home… so turning on the television or radio was not even on my mind. In fact that morning I was excited to get out because I was going to go celebrate another year passing with my first ever client.
In 1994 I got my first client in my then career of commercial finance and she remained loyal to me as a client for all those years so there was something special in that relationship, I did her first commercial financial transaction and she was my first customer… it was shaky ground for both of us as newbies to that industry but we got through it and remained loyal to one another, so celebrating another year as a couple of squirrels trying to get a nut was pretty important to us. So important that we planned on meeting at Top Of The World at 3 in the afternoon for cocktails… the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center… yes on that day.
As I left for work I followed my standard routine… drive to the corner store and get my coffee and then to my office only a couple of towns over. I went into the store and did my usual, stepped to the counter and asked for my brand of smokes. The store smelled of ammonia, incense and deli meats and a little 13 inch color television sat off to the side of the cashier who was an older Indian man that greeted me with a smile every day. His receding, graying hair always combed over to cover his ever growing bald spot reminded me of my own ever present shiny head… I remember thinking about how it was horrible that men combed over like that and wasn’t paying attention to the television until the shop keeper pointed out that an airplane crashed into the ‘Twin Towers’, to which I raised my brow and snarled my lip saying to him ‘some asshole in a piper must have fucked up’. He wasn’t sure.
I stood for a minute watching the little color television as the images of smoke coming from one of the towers was being broadcast to millions in our area, the news reporter making assumptions of what was happening; he to unsure of exactly what hit the massive icons. The angle was broadcast so we couldn’t see the damage on the side of the building and there was no real panic yet, just shock and wonder and tons of speculation, so I made my comment again about probably some small airplane being flown by an idiot and headed back to my routine. Getting in my car I immediately tuned into my regular morning program, The Howard Stern Show and was once again listening to the incident as interrpreted by the king of shock jocks… once again not overly concerned with the as of yet determined ‘attack’, Howard Stern was also speculating as to what was going on so there was little fear in the air… yet.
It wasn’t a long drive for me to work, I went down Main Street in Lodi, turned onto Garibaldi Ave. and continued through several stop lights and traffic until I reached the light on Summit Ave. and in those few short minutes things were beginning to change as the news started reporting that an airliner crashed into the tower. At that moment the words on the radio became noise, because as I made my left onto Summit Ave and drove those few feet over Route 17, I had clear line of sight to the smoking icons that graced my view every day, and like many other shocked citizens I pulled my car over for a better look. Line up and slowing down traffic were several cars, including a police car, but the cop wasn’t there to move us, instead he was staring at what he couldn’t believe… it seemed like the world slowed down as we heard stood there wondering and blasting the radios from our cars to get the play by play of what was going on. In that slow motion moment we watched and listened as the second airline, right before our eyes made it’s way into it’s intended target.
By this time, many of us were standing on the hoods and roofs of our vehicles watching the attack. Its here at this moment, as I write this that the vivid memory triggers that hallow, cold feeling in my stomach that I felt that moment when right in my back yard I watched my favourite city, my home country, my security and safety be attacked by evil, hateful, hypocritical, zealots. The memory plays out in slow motion in my mind just like it did that fateful day.
I don’t know how long any of us stood there, I don’t remember driving to my office, I can remember one of the guys in the office wheeling out an old television console and putting the news on. I don’t remember much other than watching and watching until the towers started collapsing, and I remember calling friends and family but I can’t remember what I said. I remember making calls to one of my friends, Knuckles and asking him to come with me into the city to help out, but we couldn’t get there because the bridge was blocked off. I remember crying, remember anger, remember fear, remember feelings but I can’t remember how I got home.
It took me so many years to get to a place where I could talk about what I witnessed, the friend that died in the tragedy, to get to a place where it felt safe to go into New York again, and just as long to finally get down to Ground Zero. I eventually got to a place where I could go visit, but I still couldn’t talk about it without feeling the pang of tears welling up in my throat, and it took a long time to talk to anyone about those feelings and that day.
In July of 2011, I looked out the window of the Club Quarters down into the 9/11 memorial, ten years after the attacks, and I was grateful that I never got into the city that day to meet with my first client, because laying in the bed behind me was Mony, and eventually Mony let me cry on her shoulder and finally talk about it, she let me cry and hate and do all the things I kept bottled up inside with no one to talk about… I was grateful that July morning and I’m grateful today that I can write this memory down.
We can all hate what happened and those responsible, we can mourn those lost and those who continue to suffer and we do not have to be thankful for a fucking thing in connection with that nightmare, but maybe we need to let it serve as a reminder of all those things in life we have and all those people in life we have and be grateful for them instead of remembering how evil some people can be.
Thanks for reading