Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Remember This Day

I remember this day. I remember it every year. I remember it every day. I remember it when I don't even realize that I"m remembering it.

I remember the sky, so very blue, so beautiful and clear. I remember the fast clip down the hall to my manager Carolyn's office. I remember her phone ringing as I entered and turned on her television. I remember the slow gather behind me as more co-workers filtered in. I remember the updates, the repeats, the shared shock. I remember seeing the North Tower tilt and saying "Guys? Guys?! Is the tower tilting?" and their response, "No, it's the camera that's tilted." I remember watching the camera right itself. I remember the plumes of smoke. I remember the shock of the second plane hitting the South Tower. I remember seeing that fireball live. I remember the next time the tower tilted. I remember that it wasn't the camera that time. I remember that my supervisor Sarah cried.

I remember the fear that NYC landmarks were under attack. I remember the strong voice of my vice-president directing us to leave. I remember hearing that the bridges and tunnels were closed. I remember the few e-mails and voice- mails that got through before communications broke down. I remember standing outside my office on 42nd Street. I remember Annette saying, "Come with us." I remember Sarah making sure I had a place to go.

I remember the surreal trek cross-town to Second Avenue. I remember feeling like I was on a movie set. I remember food carts with radios blaring as we crossed Madison Avenue. I remember the cell phones not working.

I remember the long downtown stretch of Park Avenue. I remember the glimpse of the pummel of smoke at its far end.

I remember being hungry. I remember stores being closed. I remember crowding into a corner pizzeria. I remember the first bite of hot and fresh pizza.

I remember saying that at least the planes were empty.

I remember having to be told that there were passengers on those planes.

I remember walking back cross-town from Second Avenue to Tenth Avenue to reach the ferry. I remember the closed stores - stores that are never closed - McDonalds, Duane Reede, CVS. I remember being thirsty.

I remember the quiet.

I remember the lines of people waiting for the ferry stretching for 10 or 20 blocks in either direction.

I remember the clothes I was wearing.

I remember trekking back to Second Avenue to spend the night at Annette's. I remember buying food and wine later that night. I remember finally reaching my family on the phone. I remember waking up throughout the night. I remember getting a foot cramp and pushing my foot against the wall to relieve it, hoping I wouldn't wake Annette up.

I remember voices outside the window early in the morning. I remember hearing them speak about giving blood and volunteering. I remember walking to the Path Station at 34th street.

I remember it still being so quiet.

I remember trying to find the right bus at Hoboken Station. I remember an obnoxious, unhelpful bus driver. I remember searching each street as we got into Weehawken, afraid I would miss the stop, unfamiliar with that part of town. I remember getting off too early. I remember more walking. I remember finally getting home. I remember seeing my cats and flopping on my bed. I remember my roommate being home and safe.

I remember the many phone messages from across the country. I remember returning calls. I remember the relief in the voices of everyone I called. I remember being afraid to turn off the television.

I remember going back to work on September 13th.

I remember my father telling me of our friends lost on United 93.

I remember the RISE UP billboard on the helix coming up from the Lincoln Tunnel. I remember hearing Bruce Springsteen's song in my head every time I looked on it. I remember latching on to that every day. I remember the Empire State Building lit up in red, white, and blue. I remember the day it went back to its regular gold. I remember that I couldn't think of what it was meant to represent; I'd become so accustomed to red, white, and blue, I no longer recognized normal.

I remember when the billboard went back to advertisements.

I remember, that February, climbing the stairs from the subway at Ground Zero for the first time and not knowing where to go. I remember all my landmarks being gone. I remember the Red Cross tent. I remember the firefighters from the House of Pain. I remember the laughter. I remember the camaraderie.

I remember crunching debris beneath my feet as a worker lead me, my college roommate Kerry and her husband Matt, an OSHA inspector, onto the sight. I remember trying to visualize the place where I'd work, trying to see Century 21, the Borders bookstore whose opening I'd attended, or Tall Ships pub, and failing. I remember gazing on the empty hole where my career had begun, where my first professional milestones were made, and feeling deeply bereft.

I remember the deep ache in my bones and my feet from the work serving the workers.

I remember listening to radio on every anniversary. I remember hearing the listing of names on the radio as I drove to work. I remember the bells, the moments of silence, the tears, the strength, the continuation of life. I remember watching the live feeds on the Internet. I remember doing this every year.

I listen to them now, recalling these memories. A recitation of names that closes my throat. A memorial of sacrifice.

I've heard it said that New York doesn't allow survivors to forget 9/11.

Thank God for that.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! A good list of memories! Thanks for opening your heart with them!