Where Were you September 11, 2001?
A certain kind of relationship develops among fellow bloggers, those who make it their business to visit your blog, read what you have to say and comment accordingly and whose blogs you visit on a regular basis. There's a warmth that develops, even though you've never met, and often times do not even know what they look like.
I want to try an experiment with my blogger-mates, a kind of pass-it-along, tag kind of thing. I will answer the question I have posed, ["Where were you on September 11, 2001 when the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center?] and ask them to do the same in the comment section of my blog. Then, when they return to their own blog, they rewrite their 9/11 experiences and ask their readers to do the same and so it goes. I hope it works.
On that Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I left my house for work at about 8:35 AM. I am a Speech Pathologist and I work in the homes and Day Care Centers of very young children with, or at risk for, developmental delays. At about 8:58 AM, just before arriving at the Day Care Center in South Orange, NJ, I heard the DJ on a Rock radio station announce, in an exclamatory, but quite skeptical, almost joking way, that he'd just got word that a plane hit the World Trade Center or that there was a fire near the top of the WTC, he wasn't really sure (the station itself was broadcasting from NYC) and he followed it by saying something like, "yeah, right!" At that point I was parking my car and I didn't think all that much about it due to the flippancy in the announcer's voice. I entered the Center and for the next hour worked with my regularly scheduled 9 AM child. As I was leaving, an hour later, I passed a woman who worked there, with whom I'd become chatty-friendly, as one does in the work-a-day world. I asked how she was doing and she responded with a deep frown, "not very well". When I asked her what was the matter, she looked at me as if to say, where in the hell have you been girl? Her actual words were, "don't you know what's been happening?" and before I could mention something about what I'd casually heard on the radio, she blurted forth more of the details and the fact that many of the parents of these children in this Day Care work at the World Trade Center.
Rushing back to my car and the radio, every station, was broadcasting the same news and it took only a minute or two to get up to speed. But, like so many, I just could not get past those words that I kept hearing, that the two towers of the WTC had fallen. The World Trade Center was no more. For some reason it was that information, those words, that I could not get my mind around, that literally froze me in place. My imagination was not equipped for what they were saying. The World Trace Center was no more. I could not think of the people, the consequences, anything, other than those seven words. When I started crying, I became confused and disoriented. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Do I go to the next child's home on my schedule? Do I go home? Do I call the office and ask them what to do? Do I call my husband (working in NJ) or my kids (one in High School, the other in College). It really didn't matter because when I tried to use my cell phone, not one of the calls got through. I began to drive to the house of my next child, but I literally could not find it, despite the fact that I'd been there tens of times. I was completely disoriented, was having trouble seeing through my tears and kept making circles. When I finally got to the door, with tears in my eyes and voice, the only thing I could think to say to the mother of the child, was to ask if I could use their phone because my cell phone was useless. She, of course, was on the phone, but soon hung up and handed it to me. The office said to call the other families and cancel therapy sessions if I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted, but I knew I needed to be with someone with whom I felt close. I drove to a friend's house in the neighborhood, only to find no one home. As I drove to my home, some 14 miles away, and my mind still in a fog, it suddenly occured to me that there was someone I'd not thought about calling, but ought to have. My hub's niece from Israel and her boyfiend had been staying with us for the Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur). Their plan for the day was to go into The City to visit the World Trade Center (they'd already been to other parts of the city and that day was for downtown). They were to take the bus in from NJ and then subways to the WTC. I freaked. I had absolutely no clarity of mind and all I could think was that I had to get home to warn them, hoping and praying that they hadn't left already (it was then close to 11 AM). I sped home and felt like I was driving blind through my tears. Once home, I left the keys in the car, door open and rushed into the house calling their names, only to find that thankfully they were there and my mother had called them an hour or so earlier with the news.
The next hours and days were spent glued to the television and radio, seeing over and over what the rest of the country and the world was seeing and trying, without success, to understand, to believe what had happened. In those raw moments, hours, days and weeks, you couldn't think about what it all meant, what the repercussions would be; all you could do was grieve and try to believe it, try to understand.