Six years ago today.
The day was bright and sunny; warm for the time of year. I got ready for work, even left a little early. My commute is usually about an hour, give or take 10 minutes. I had been listening to David McCullough’s biography of John Adams on tape in the car. I pulled out of the driveway, switched off the radio and put in a tape.
Traffic seemed a little heavier than usual. As I got closer to the Tappan Zee Bridge, I remember thinking something must be happening on the GWB. Traffic is often heavy if there is an accident on one of the other bridges. But it was not stopped, only slow.
When I pulled into the parking lot at work, I saw one of my staff pacing and smoking a cigarette. I pulled up along side of him and laughingly rolled down the window.
“Hey, if you have nothing to do, I can give you work.”
He shot back, “What are you talking about. How can I work after what happened?”
I must have looked quizzical, because he followed up with “A plane has just hit the World Trade Center.”
“Get out.” I said. I drove up the row and parked. He met me as I walked toward the office.
“Didn’t you hear it on the radio?”
“No, I was listening to a book on tape.”
I went inside and the office was in an uproar. I cancelled my morning meetings and joined the rest of the office staff upstairs where the Media folks had set up a TV. We all huddled around watching the news as it was unfolding. We watched in horror as the buildings collapsed. We saw people jumping, running, and streams of smoke and paper and ash everywhere.
This is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
When Mayor Guilani shut down the City, we all wondered if we could get home. People on the east side of the river offered up their homes to those of us who didn’t live close. The Foundation President closed the office. I decided to make a run for the bridge. I figured I could always go north if I had to. There would surely be a bridge open somewhere. The thruway was almost empty. I tried to dial out on my cell, knowing that my family and friends would be looking for me. Many people in the flatland and even those in NJ have no real grasp of exactly where I work and its proximity to the City. The circuits were jammed. I just kept hitting redial.
As I crossed the bridge, I looked down river and I could see pillars of smoke rising. It would continue that way for a long time after the buildings had collapsed.
The office was closed the next day. I went to visit my friend Louise for her birthday. I will never forget her birthday again.
Two other memories stand out.
I sat on my front lawn with my neighbor on a clear sunny day the following weekend. We marveled at a sky with no planes. We talked about what was happening and what it meant to us.
I also remember the 2 pillars of light that honored the twin towers. We could see them from NJ. It was awesome.
What were you doing on September 11th ?