My landscape, forever altered

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest daughter. I readied for work and turned on the Today Show. The top story was Michael Jordan coming out of retirement…again. I remember thinking to myself “there is nothing more important going on in the world than that?”

I recall that for weeks the news leading up to that day had been filled with much of nothing. There really was very little of great import going on in the world. We were treated to a lot of stories about lost dogs finding their way home over the span of many states, and the world’s largest ear of corn. That’s why Mr. Jordan was the top story.

I was at work in Charlottesville, VA when I got news of the first plane. I had grown up right across the Hudson River from NYC, so a co-worker thought I might find it interesting that a plane had hit one of the twin towers – his wife had seen the report and called him. I immediately figured it was a Cesna or some other small aircraft. I remember trying to get online to read about it, but my internet connection was slow to nonexistent.

So, I called my buddy John in NYC, and he confirmed the news to me that it was much more than a Cesna. I can’t recall every detail of that morning. I just know that my bosses set up a television in one of our conference rooms, and we all watched the day unfold in stunned silence. I also called my husband who worked in an ice rink and most likely had not heard the news. I told him to get to a TV now.

One co-worker had a cousin who worked in one of the towers, and she was visibly upset, trying to get news on her family member’s whereabouts. I was crying as well. A co-worker asked me why I was so upset…did I have friends or family in the towers? I looked at him and said, “No, but that’s my backyard. That’s my skyline. That’s the landscape I call home, and it’s totally fucked now.”

I remember looking at those smoldering towers, and thinking they didn’t look quite straight. I voiced my concern that they might fall over and said, “do you realize how many thousands of people are going to die if they fall over?” I never imagined they would implode..I pictured them falling over like a tower of blocks.

Later that afternoon, I noticed something very eerie. The area I live in is a heavy airline traffic zone. Planes from Washington DC, Richmond, Atlanta, NY and NJ constantly fly over my town. On a clear day, our sky was rarely free of the criss-crossing pattern of plane trails – there was always a ghostly grid in the sky. But by 3 pm on 9/11/01 the sky was totally void of any trails – it was totally clear, and it stayed that way for days. It was really creepy.

That night we went to my sister’s house to watch the coverage. We were all in shock, we were all talking about what we had heard, who had known anyone in the towers, and listening to the news. My oldest daughter was only 5 at the time…she doesn’t remember too much about it – just that we were all at Aunt Wendy’s and that everyone was sad.

Two days later we signed the closing papers on our first home. Our agent asked why we weren’t happier…we had just bought a house! We pointed to the small television in their office, still playing 9/11 news and said, “how can we possibly feel any joy about it?” Everyone was scared. Everyone was waiting for another attack. Nothing seemed important and everything seemed important.

Three months later, to the day, my youngest was born. She’s 9 now, and knows that the towers fell when she was in my belly. Every year I watch as many programs as I can that commemorate that day. I know there are people who cannot bear to watch them, but each time I watch, I remember all those poor people whose lives were changed that day. I get sad, but I also get angry.

And I feel proud that NYC and our country brushed ourselves off and got back up. And, I’m thankful for every day where is there is very little news.

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