What I Was Doing on 9/11/01

It’s another September 11th, and once again I turn on my phone to be harassed with the annual message, “What were you doing on September 11th, 2001?”. Unfortunately, I have no fancy answer other than browsing the internet.

My mother worked for the Department of Defense, in the World Trade Center in Norfolk, VA at that time. I remember getting an early morning phone call from her saying, “A plane hit a building in New York!”. It didn’t raise any alarm bells for me though because having lived in New York before, pilots were no strangers to ramming their aircraft into buildings in Manhattan, so I figured it was just more of the same. There had already been countless times planes hit random skyscapers before. It even happened recently about 2 summers ago.

But in 2001, I was 24 years old and had just moved back to Virginia from New York 3 years earlier after having lived there for 2 years trying to chase a vapid modeling “career”. But looking back, it was perhaps a good thing that my pursuit for a modeling life failed, because I had actually worked in a pet store on Chambers Street not far from the original Twin Towers. I passed the two behemoths every day to get to work. Assuming it was just one of those “stupid pilot” instances, I remember calmly replying to my mom that planes always hit buildings and I didn’t really give it anymore energy. At least, until I got curious.

I went to my home page. At that time, back when internet users actually used their home pages, Yahoo! was the popular service then, so my home page was set to Yahoo!. Only that day, in the infantile stages of cable internet, the page wouldn’t load. I kept hammering the F5 button, but it would only load part of the page and then stopped. Eventually, I caught a glimpse at part of the headline that said something like “Plane hits World Trade Center Tower”. I kept refreshing the page and then it eventually loaded the image as well. It was the picture of the first tower being struck.

Then, not too long later, another picture loaded of the 2nd tower being struck and I felt my heart drop. Terrorist attack wasn’t even in my vocabulary but once the news reported it, it was the first time in my life I felt my existence was threatened and the whole day was surrounded in a shroud of mystery. No one knew what was happening or what to expect. Everyone and everything was confusing. How many more things are they going to ram planes into was my 1st thought. And second, who was doing this? And then that was answered with the Pentagon strike and the one that crashed into the field, I think somewhere in Pennsylvania.

I remember that entire day just being surreal and I was on edge most of the morning. Then, I got a call from my mom saying she was being evacuated and coming home early because they were locking down the World Trade Center in Virginia due to the attacks in New York. That brought me a lot of relief. If you don’t know, there are World Trade Centers all over the world (duh) with about 40 of them being in the United States.

That evening, I ran to the local store and grabbed a newspaper, because you know, that’s what we had back then. We actually read long sheets of paper called “newspapers” of which I still have. I wasn’t even aware that I kept them and only came across them upon my move back to New York.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long until the internet basket cases grabbed hold of the tragedy trying to claim it was a government inside job. Then It wasn’t until years after that when YouTube came out that the trove of videos and phone calls to 911 that didn’t make the news, were uploaded showing the actual horror of what really went down on Chambers Street that the news didn’t capture. The videos and sound clips have haunted me ever since. They are hard to watch which is why I don’t.

9/11 Tribute lights being tested a few days before on September 9th, 2021

Fast-Forward now exactly 20 years later, ironically I now live in an apartment with a direct view of World Trade One in Downtown Manhattan and I wonder not about what I was doing on September 11th, 2001, but who was living in this apartment 20 years ago. What did they see and feel as they would have been right under the toxic billowing cloud over them? 🦉

9/11 Tribute lights seen from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. September 11th, 2021

2 Replies to “What I Was Doing on 9/11/01”

  1. Keep those papers!!! Wow. I was at work and the Executive Director had not made it to the office saw the first plane hit the first tower and we ran downstairs in the lunch room to watch the tv. By that time, Ithe second plane had hit. I was a wreck and we had the option to go home and I did.

    1. Wow had no idea you went through that. 😬 I think that was one of the worst days of my life having to deal with the psychological part of it.
      I’m going to try and find a frame for the newspapers though. Realized I had two actually.

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