I was 23 back on September 11, 2001…. A soon-to-be bride, already working a full year out of college….A lot of life has occurred for me over the last 12 years. Yet, every September 11, I am brought back to that day and that year as if it were yesterday.
I recall driving to work on a beautiful and crisp New York morning. I remember wearing a white long-sleeved V-neck shirt and my favorite dark denim Lucky Brand jeans. Was I really allowed to wear jeans to work on a Tuesday? See, I even remember it was Tuesday.
I recall talking to my fiancé (now ex-husband) on my drive to work via my old-fashioned bulky cell phone as I drove to work like any other morning.
I actually remember driving and thinking how blue and clear the sky appeared.
I recall sitting at my desk well before 9:00 am. I have always been early by nature. If I am on time, I am late.
A co-worker came into my office asking if we heard about some plane crash at the World Trade Center.
No, we hadn’t.
I immediately dialed my then fiancé, who was still driving to work.
Before I could utter a word, he said, “Can you believe what is happening, I see the whole thing from the expressway…”
And you all know the rest.
We all hung around the office, glued to radios, a television and making phone calls. I don’t think we utilized the internet for info back then as we do now. Although I do remember checking my wedding registry all day long at work so I could be wrong.
Eventually in the next hour or so our office closed for the day and I headed home.
Home was still my parent’s house as I wasn’t to be married for 2 more months.
I recall being afraid to drive with my sunroof open. Why? I don’t know. I just remember thinking the sky could fall on me.
I spent the day on the couch in the den talking on the phone to my best friend Heather, both watching the news coverage from separate states in complete disbelief.
I recall eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple for lunch. I never forget a meal.
The bridges and tunnels were all shut down, you couldn’t get into the city and you couldn’t get out. My cousin Amy, who lived in Manhattan, was working out here on the island that day and was stuck so she headed on over to our house.
We went to TCBY to pick up a birthday cake for my mother, who yes, shares her birthday with this tragic day. Happy Birthday mom!
I recall driving to TCBY and noticing that no one was on the road and most stores were closed. Perhaps TCBY stayed open under the assumption that people like to comfort themselves with sugar?
Amy and I also baked cookies that night where I subbed applesauce for the butter. See, even back then I was attempting the healthy alternatives in baking.
I don’t think the cookies ever made it to the oven, pretty sure we ate the dough raw while watching the news.
It was a bad night – no one really slept and I remember being up by 5:00 am on the treadmill running intervals (much slower than I run now) while watching the news.
For weeks, if not months after that tragic day, I was afraid to leave the house in the dark. When I first went to Manhattan a few weeks later for Rosh Hashanah, I was afraid to get out of the car.
I am pretty sure I walked around afraid for a while.
I think about the tragedy of that day all of the time and absolutely every time I am in the city.
Our innocence was robbed that day and life was never quite the same.
But we can’t live in fear. I tell my son this all of the time because I do not want him to be afraid to live his life.
Sometimes I have to tell myself the same thing. Over and over. And over.
I was extremely fortunate to not lose a loved one that day but plenty of people I know did. Plenty of people were far more affected that day than me and my heart goes out to them not just today, but every day.