A lot changes in one decade. For me, I divorced, moved back from New Jersey, met and married the love of my life and had two children. My life couldn’t look more different from the outside. Instead of living in a 600 square foot walk up, where at the top of my street I could see Manhattan and walk to the bank and post office, I live where I get in my car to drive my son the 3/4 mile ride to school.
9.11 was an event that always carries the question of, “where were you when it happened?” I remember distinctly. I was working in Elmwood Park, NJ and we were starting our staff meeting. I can remember what I wore to work that day. Someone came in late and said they heard reports of a plane flying into one of the towers. Like everyone, we all thought it was a small commuter plane that had gotten off course. We started our 9 am ET meeting. By 9:45 am the number of phones that were ringing throughout the office was bizarre. This was in the days smart phones and texting. Finally, we decided to take a break. Then we learned.
I was living away from all my family. I had multiple messages from my mom trying to reach me, but could not. The cell lines were already jammed pack. My dad was living and working in Washington D.C. at the time. More calls were made. When I was able to talk to my mom and let her know I was ok, it was a huge relief. And then to know my dad was safe too was a blessing. I had friends who worked in the city and I was able to contact them over the next few hours.
The whole day was surreal. We were about 10 miles from ground zero. You could see the smoke for miles and miles. Bridges and tunnels to and from the city were closed causing some to not be able to make it home, but they were safe. To watch the news over the next few days and the awful horrific replays of the day was almost too much. Air traffic was grounded for three days. It was an odd site to not look up and see airplanes flying. The smoke continued to curl in the air for days afterward. For weeks afterward, you would see flyers around the city at the ferry terminal or bus station with “Missing” posters. It was so much to comprehend.
The news was on 24/7. “How would this change us? As a nation? As individuals?” they would ask.
Now it has been 10 years. How are we different? How has this one event changed us? What changed on the outside looking in? And how have we changed on the inside looking out? I struggle daily with these questions. Not just because of 9/11, but the collective experiences of my day-to-day life.
My children will read about 9/11 in history books. Maybe one day they will ask me, “where were you mom when 9/11 happened? How did it change you?”
And how will I answer?