About 11 years ago, I lived in Washington, D.C., in a lovely one-bedroom apartment. I had a great job, a great boyfriend, and really spotty phone service. It was bundled with my cable and internet, and inexplicably, the phone service was gone while I had cable and internet.
I told my boss that I needed to be home for a couple hours one morning so that I could wait for the folks to come and fix my phone.
I was all dressed up for work. I watched the Today Show. And Matt Lauer told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I emailed all my colleagues and told them to go online or watch TV… I kept watching television. A second plane crashed into the second tower. I emailed my family. Then I heard Jim Miklaszewski report from the Pentagon that he heard a big crash. I dropped to my knees. A fourth plane crashed, not terribly far from my sister’s town. I took to the couch.
My office closed. The cable/phone guys came by and fixed my phone. I started making phone calls. My sister told me that her she had just brought her kids home from school. My boyfriend in Philadelphia told me his classmates were crying—they had worked with people at the World Trade Center. My boss told me to come to her house. My mom told me to stay put.
I listened to my mom. But I wanted something to eat. I walked up the street to my neighborhood grocery store. I bought some hot dogs, and buns, and some Guinness. Nothing else seemed remotely appealing. The cashier, an elderly guy, told me that if he were young enough he’d go and fight the bastards.
The television never went off in my apartment that day. It was comforting.
The next day, I went back to work. I learned that a colleague’s wife had died. Another colleague’s brother had died. Another colleague’s college professor had died with her children.
Three days later, with friends and strangers, I sang “Amazing Grace” and the national anthem, in front of a church near my office.
My boyfriend proposed to me a month later.
Six weeks later I completed the Marine Corps Marathon. We ran past the Pentagon. Twice. A Marine congratulated me as I crossed the finish line, and I sobbed.
Our children asked me about 9/11 last year, on the tenth anniversary. Our daughter asked what happened.
“Some people were very wrong about what they believed, they thought we were hurting them. So they decided to hurt us in the worst way ever.”
“Were they bad guys?”
“Yes, they were very bad guys. Very wrong, and very bad. But we’re okay now. And we’re going to be better.”
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