I cannot even believe it’s September 11 again. Last year’s 15th anniversary feels like yesterday as does writing last year about the pathetic peanut butter sandwich I ate back when the towers were falling.
Before I go any further, I want to share the link to that disordered eating post again in case you missed it.
I still think about that peanut butter sandwich and writing last year’s post about my life back in 2001 with amenorrhea and trying to control what I ate. The memory of that pathetic peanut butter sandwich made with fake peanut butter and low calorie bread is forever a reminder of how ridiculous it was to overthink about calories, especially when the worlds of so many people were crumbling and life as we once knew it was changed forever.
So I’m doing my best this year to NOT read survivor stories. Last year I fell into a really dark hole of allowing myself to read story upon story from those who survived. I hadn’t really let myself do that in the past and I really can’t allow myself to do it again because it’s just not good for me.
My local mall (Walt Whitman for local readers) placed this monument outside of the entrance a few years ago and I still see it every time I am there (which is, um, basically every day).
Close to 500 people from my area died on September 11, 2001 which even as I write this post year after year, I still can’t comprehend.
I often think about September 10, 2001 before it all happened. When life was innocent.
When I went to Roosevelt Field mall (yes, I like malls) during my lunch break from work looking for a gift for my mother since her birthday was the next day, September 11. Happy Birthday mom!
When you didn’t really look around you in the mall, worrying about where the emergency exits were or if the man over there was suspicious.
When you didn’t think about terrorists or taking your shoes off in the airport or worry that your peanut butter would somehow count for a liquid on an airplane.
It was the year of my engagement, two months before my wedding day and just a few weeks before my bridal shower.
I remember driving to work the morning of September 11 in the gorgeous morning sunshine with the sunroof open, taking note of the bright blue sky and crisp Autumn-like air. My office was about 30 minutes outside of Manhattan.
I remember being at my desk before 9:00 am (I was always early) and my coworker running in asking if anyone else had heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trader Center.
I remember calling my fiancé (funny to use that term now but that’s what my now ex-husband was) on his cell phone while he was driving to work and he answered shouting about what he was witnessing from the Long Island Expressway just a few exits from the midtown tunnel.
My coworkers and I gathered around to listen to the radio and watch news coverage on one small television.
We were sent home for the day before 11:00 am.
I remember sitting on the floor of the den eating a peanut butter and jelly (which I now realize was a completely pathetic sandwich) with an apple for lunch as I watched the horrific news coverage on the television. I still lived at home at the time, home as in with my parents.
I sat there eating and watching while talking to my best friend Heather on the phone since she was also sent home for the day from work down in Florida. Her uncle worked in the Pentagon but he was okay.
I remember trying to reach friends and family in the city to see that they were okay but the phones didn’t connect so well.
I think back now to the difference in technology. We didn’t have text or cameras built into our phones, the internet didn’t serve us as it does now nor did we have a thing called social media to keep us informed and connected.
I had a Startac phone with no caller id, nothing smart about it other than dialing and offering me call waiting.
I remember baking chocolate chip cookies that night with my cousin Amy, replacing the oil with applesauce and even eating some of the dough raw.
My cousin Amy was stranded at our house because the bridges and tunnels were all shut down which meant she could not get back home to the city.
I remember going with Amy to get my mother a birthday cake that night from TCBY, the only store opened in the area. The town was basically deserted. All of the stores were closed and no one was on the road.
I remember barely sleeping at night for weeks because of the news coverage on television all night long of people looking for their missing loved ones.
I remember being afraid to leave the house in the dark, especially in the mornings before work when I would normally go to the gym.
So instead, I spent my time on the treadmill in my parents’ basement where I felt safe.
I remember hearing about friends of mine who lost their parents, relatives and close friends at the World Trader Center as well as learning about those close to me who survived.
I remember canceling my lavish honeymoon and changing the destination completely because we were afraid to fly or be too far from home, not sure of what the heck would be going on in the world.
I will never forget how afraid I was to go to my aunt’s apartment in the city to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, only a week later. I was afraid to go over the Triboro bridge and afraid to get out of the car when we parked on Lexington Avenue.
I remember the smell of lower Manhattan a month after September 11 when I had no choice but to be downtown for a meeting. The burning smell which lingered on for so long was so strong still at that point and it was a reminder of what we were living through.
I recall the one year anniversary of September 11th being almost as upsetting somehow as the actual day.
One of my co-workers brought in munchkins (not to celebrate but more as an emotional eating session) where we sat for a while and lots of us cried.
As the years keep passing, I don’t forget.
On September 11, 2003, I was nine months pregnant, picking up the keys to our first house which we closed on days earlier. I recall watching the 9/11 news coverage all morning while I continued to pack before going to meet my realtor.
On September 11, 2006, I watched the news coverage as I tried to get my son ready for his first day of preschool. Which was a total disaster of a day – he cried the entire four hours of school and I cried listening to him cry as I sat in the preschool office unable to leave the building.
Five years ago today I left a part-time job in event planning to go off on my own to explore a career for myself by going back to school to further explore a new direction in health, fitness and freelance writing. It really couldn’t have been a happier time and major turning point in my life yet at the same time, I didn’t forget and will never forget.
And here I am today 16 years later, with a son who is now in high school and his Bar Mitzvah behind us.
Over the years I’ve tried to keep him from seeing the news coverage and reading articles about what it was like for those who survived but I can’t really control it anymore. He is getting older and really, he should know what happened.
He should know where his parents were on that day, that something completely inconceivably horrible occurred but that there are still good people in this world.
He needs to know how New Yorkers and the world came together and most importantly, to never forget.