Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago Today

Five years! Are you sure it wasn't yesterday?

I was getting ready to visit my best friend when my sister called and said that the radio said that a small plane had flown into the World Trade Center, could I put on the TV to make sure it wasn't some sick joke? So on went the TV and while I was on the phone with her, I watched as the second plane hit.

For some reason, I felt compelled to still go and visit my friend. Insane, in retrospect. I stopped and got gas; the attendant told me about the planes and the towers and I just nodded. He was shocked and appalled. On the way up, as I got closer to her house, every now and then cars were pulled over to the shoulder and people were standing, watching.... because those were the areas on Route 9 where you could see the city, and the towers burning.

Her TV was out, except for one channel, so we listened to the news on the radio and then went down to the water to see for ourselves. The towers had fallen by then, and we could see the dust cloud from the debris of the towers.

Trying to remember, who works where? Where is their office? Was that downtown or uptown? Phone calls not going thru; hours of people checking in, people calling, yes, he's OK, she's OK, people walking across bridges, arriving home hours later. Not everyone made it; the call from my uncle, saying his wife's cousin was at Cantor Fitzgerald. They baptized his youngest at the memorial service.

The son of a friend of my parents decided to go into work late, and surfed instead. So lived.

Days later, standing in line at BabyGap to pay for something, the woman in front of me talked about how her boyfriend was doing clean up work at the site. And all he could talk about was the smell and the body parts. And the smell.

My mother's cousin also worked at the site; he died about seven months later. The autoposy said he was full of asbestos; from the site? Who knows.

I live in the area of New Jersey that is full of commuters; it was, and is, endless, the stories, the connections, the loss.

A year ago, someone from out of state asked why there were so many 9/11 memorials in NJ. After all, in happened in New York.

Yes, it happened in New York. But they commuted from New Jersey and Connecticut and Long Island. They went to work, they got on planes for business trips and vacations. They did nothing wrong. It wasn't their fault.

It didn't just happen to New York.


Anonymous said...

I've had a hard time reading all these memorial posts but I wanted to thank you for writing yours.

christine M said...

Liz - I was so glad you did come up that day - because being alone with just the kids would have been too hard.

Anonymous said...

Liz, thanks for sharing your thoughts yesterday. It helps, in some way that I can't describe, to hear how other people responded, where they were, etc. As for me, I was actually on a business trip in Austin, TX, where I got stuck for several days before I could fly home to California. But we were all affected, and will never be quite the same.

On a brighter note, I was pleased to see overlap between your "best books of 2006" and mine. All of the ones on your list are ones that either are on my list, or that I haven't read yet. That is, I don't disagree with any of your choices. And I'm going to use your list to add to my "to read" pile.


Nancy said...

Thanks for this post Liz. I agree with Jen.

I was up in the suburbs of Boston, in a meeting with a client. We all stayed in the office that day until lunch time, listening to the radio and watching images on the internet. I had a tough time grasping the idea that the buildings collapsed, and I remember looking at the (still-frame) photo and saying, "No, just the top came off, the whole building didn't come down."

A dozen of us went to lunch together, no one willing to go home, no one having any other ideas about what to do. After lunch, I talked with my mother, who worked in a suburban shopping mall. Her employees were in the background, saying the mall would be evacuated. I remember reassuring my mother that her suburban shopping mall was hardly a likely target that day.

Finally, around 4PM, I went home, and sat in silence. I couldn't put the TV on until later in the evening. And all I really wanted to do was drive 90 miles west to my parents' house, and curl up in bed while my mother brought me cinnamon toast.

Liz B said...

Jen, a good friend of my father's flew out of Newark that morning on a business trip (I guess it's just a matter of luck that his flight wasn't targeted). Two of my aunts were in Florida and had to deal with both the mental aspect of not being "home" while this was going on and the headache of getting home with all the flights grounded.

Nancy, cinnamon toast cures everything!

Chris, I'm glad that we weren't alone that day!

Liz B said...

susan, thank you!