Today is one of those days that I will always be able to say “I remember exactly where I was when…”. It’s kind of the same way as when Kennedy and Martin Luther King died. Yes, I’m dating myself.
Sadly, I was in bed asleep when it started (I live on the left coast). The phone rang and an ex-coworker told me to turn on the TV, that the World Trade Center was under attack and was collapsing. After I hung up, I thought she was just hysterical – that couldn’t possibly be true. I was wrong.
I was unemployed at the time (one of many bouts of that unfortunate state of being when you are an IT contracting professional), and she and I were supposed to go to a job fair at the Los Angeles convention center. But all the news services were advising people to stay away from large public places, especially in the larger cities. I couldn’t have taken my eyes off the news coverage anyway.
The days that followed were strangely eerie. Gone were sounds of helicopters and planes overhead. The one day I did hear jets flying by, I was scared because I knew they shouldn’t be there. Turned out to be the military patrolling the coast. Oddly, it wasn’t very comforting. People were staying home, not going out. We had candlelight vigils on the corner of our street each night as a way to comfort each other. No one wanted to be alone. We all wanted a sense of community, to know that everything was okay.
I remember getting a flag for my car that stayed there until it was so ragged there was almost nothing left. A woman that I had just worked with was just a block from ground zero when it happened, and she had just found out she was pregnant. She had to have tests to make sure everything was okay because of all the debris that was in the air.
The next job I got was on a project where nearly half of the team were Muslim men. They were great guys – no different from any of the other guys on the team, except a lot hungrier during Ramadan. They taught me a lot of about their faith. Even took me to mosque once for prayer service. The talk given that day at the mosque was about slowing down and making sure that life is lived to the fullest.
I lived alone on 9/11/2001 and had for many years. That changed shortly after that. I sometimes think the events that day pushed me outside of myself into new relationships and growth – some good, and some painful and not so good. But I guess we all grew up that day, in a lot of different ways.