I had to think a while about what I wanted to write about 9/11, if anything. I worked in New York City for 18 years. The week between finals and graduation I spent interviewing in NYC. I moved to the city immediately after graduation. We moved to Texas almost 5 years ago, but this city will always hold a special place in my heart. We love that city, and we loved those buildings. I went to the observation deck on a church trip in junior high school. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at Windows On The World. What I remember about that night was that the portions were tiny, the dinner was expensive, my feet were killing me because I wore new sandals and the view was breathtaking.
It was pure and utter chance that my husband and I weren't in town on 9/11. We were on a rare vacation, driving through Texas and Florida. That day we were in a small motel in Tampa, with plans to drive up to Atlanta that day to visit a friend. We woke up, turned on the Today Show, and saw that a plane had hit one of the towers. They were still reporting that they thought it was a small commuter plane. My husband worked near the towers, and he immediately called in to his office to find out how every one was. He was on the phone with his colleagues, watching the television, when he saw the second plane coming he started screaming at them to get away from the windows. His co-workers said that the plane flew so close to their building that the building shook.
We joined other guests in the lobby restaurant for a very somber breakfast. Everyone was glued to the television. We watched with horror when the third plane hit the Pentagon. We cried at the horrific, staggering loss of life. We reassured our family, friends, and business associates who called us that we were okay, that we were, amazingly enough, not in town.
Last night I woke up at 3.15 am. My husband was still up, watching one of the programs on 9/11. Nine years later and he is still deeply affected by that day. Nine years later and I still picture when I looked out the motel door to the car and saw him collapsed on the ground, sobbing. I remember our first sight of the trails of smoke rising from lower Manhattan. I remember the burning smell in the city for weeks afterwards. I remember the hundreds of pictures of missing people posted at the New Jersey Waterways ferry terminal and Port Authority. I remember how my husband had to get police escort to lower Manhattan to get our car out of the parking garage where we'd stored it while we were away. I remember seeing the soldiers and police armed with rifles at the bridge and tunnel crossings. I remember freaking out one month later because there was a forbidden truck on the lower level of the GWB when it was bumper to bumper traffic and a police car with its sirens blasting was pushing through traffic behind us. I remember thinking it was going to happen again, that day, any day.