September 21, 2023

September 11, 2001

Here’s what I remember.

Walking into work and my friend Ed was telling everyone to log on to CNN right away because something had happened at the twin towers.

Phone lines being tied up and not being able to get in touch with family. Hearing that my cousin worked at the trade center and nobody could figure out if she was okay.

Hovering in the vice president’s office down the hall with a small group of my co-workers as we watched the explosion on TV in terror and confusion.

Standing out in the courtyard after being called to a meeting, crying along with a couple of my friends at work, listening to the higher-ups tell us that it would be good if we opened our homes to people who lived on the Manhattan side and couldn’t get back to their families tonight.

Walking around with my hair standing on end for most of the next two months. Driving an hour to Piscataway to feel the comforting presence of my friend and her family because I didn’t have my own family for that sense of safety and security.

Crowding around TV sets to hear names of people, lists of names of people who had died.

Seriously questioning what sort of purpose was held by my corporate advertising job. Later, being assigned writing jobs that would help kids process their emotions.

Listening to the chatter of people at work and feeling very disconnected from it. Bringing garbage bags to the Red Cross and finding out if I could go down to the scene to help but being told that it would be better if people donated from afar.

Thinking that it was miraculous that so many people I knew got out of this unscathed. But also, other people did not.

Looking at the empty hole in the skyline that I had a view from the highway where I lived at the time.

Noticing that people changed. Strangers on the street were kinder and more connected after this.

I felt a human connection. I wondered why it took such tragedy and devastation to be able to feel that.

It took a long time for the goosebumps to go away.