9 Years Ago



Everyone I’m sure has a story to tell from this date.  Last year around this time I contemplated writing it in my blog and decided against it.  Maybe enough time has gone by now.

During this time 9 years ago I lived by myself in an apartment outside of Boston.  September 10, 2001 was a Monday.  I was attending Goth Night at an Irish bar in Boston with a good friend for the final time as I was moving to Arizona to start school in a few weeks time.

At the end of the night I decided to take Route 9 home rather than the Mass Pike.  I’m not sure why I decided to take that route.  I passed the normal things; malls, gas stations, grocery stores, and I also passed a certain hotel.  Unbeknown to me at that time a terrorist was staying in that very hotel waiting to carry out a most horrific task the following morning.  My stomach is dropping as I recall this.

I went home and went to bed.  Fairly early in the morning the phone rang.  It was my bestfriend calling to let me know that the first plane had crashed into one of the Trade Towers.  She knew I didn’t watch television at the time.  I was thinking that it had to be a small plane, like a cessna or something.  Wasn’t there a plane of that type still embedded into the side of a building somewhere in New York City?  No, she said.  This was no small plane.  In fact, it was no accident.  As we spoke the second plane crashed into the other tower.  I heard her gasp.  What the hell was going on in the world?     Although I can’t remember which plane left out of Boston, I know it left from our airport (Logan) and struck one of those towers.  No sooner did I get off the phone with her then did I get a call from a marine friend of  mine who was stationed in Yuma, AZ at the time.  He told me that there were many other terrorists sitting on grounded planes and that this could have been much much worse. 

Immediately I searched for the small black & white tv set with the 6 inch screen my mother had given me.  My sister called thereafter.  She had the tv on as well.  The whole world was glued to the news then.  We both watched in horror as the first tower fell.  I placed my head down on the kitchen table and cried.  My father was working in Washington D.C.  I kept trying to call but the phone lines were jammed.  After getting off the phone with my sister who also didn’t have any luck reaching our Dad, another friend called.  He informed me that a plane had hit the Pentagon.  Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Where is my father!?  Panic doesn’t even begin to describe how it felt.  This was a far reaching serious as hell type of realization.  Nobody had heard from him.  Nobody along the eastern seaboard was able to call anyone.  Much to all our relief, my Dad called from a bar not too far from the Pentagon where he was watching CNN with all the nearby office workers that were told to evacuate.  I can’t even begin to describe the relief.  I cried when I heard his voice.  He was remarkably calm.  My Dad didn’t work at the Pentagon but he was nearby.  A girlfriend’s Dad was working there at the time and although thankfully he wasn’t hurt, he was thrown to the grown upon impact.

In time more would come out about this horrific plot and the men that oversaw it.  I of course learned of the hotel they stayed at.  I learned that they had come into the country from Canada and the highway they took to Boston was the same one my family took to get to Maine on our summer vacations.  I remembered a week earlier I had joined friends at the Charles River to play volleyball.  The restrooms were quite a distance away.  Families of all backgrounds joined there for recreation.  It was not uncommon to hear several different languages and I will always love the diversity of Boston.  On the way to the restroom I caught sight of a young man dressed a bit too warmly for the weather we were having.  He was in a light blue dress shirt and trousers.  He leaned against a boulder and stared out over the river.  I remember thinking that something about this seem odd to me.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  It was a good 15 minute hike to the restroom.  The young man smiled slightly at me and continued gazing out over the water.  On the way back to meet my friends, the man was in the same spot still gazing over the river.  Now this may not have anything to do with what happened but for some reason this man stuck out in my mind.  He was not with anyone.  He was not dressed for recreation as the rest of those there were.  It may not even be related but I remember.

My Mom arrived home from work one night shortly thereafter.  A woman she knew from the office had been on that plane leaving Logan.  When her boss told her of what had happened to her he broke down and cried with his head on the desk.  This woman ran a business in the same office park I had worked in before moving.  Her daughters were taking over the business and had even appeared on Oprah.  It was requested of them to bring in their Mom’s hairbrush so that investigators may be able to extract DNA from it.  Her remains have never been found.  My Dad, safely home now, went with my Step-Mom to a memorial service for co-workers she lost in that plane.  Her building remained draped in a black ribbon for months to come.

In the midst of this surreality I was getting ready to leave for Arizona where I would be living while in school.  The apartment needed to be packed and there were friends and family to say goodbye to.  A girlfriend of mine asked me if I still believed in God after all this.  I honestly didn’t know what to tell her.  When I think of my thoughts at that time I am ashamed however, they were based on fear and anger.  I thought so many things, so many bad bad things.  There were images on tv of people in the middle east dancing in the streets after the attacks were carried out.  Why?  Why would they do that?  In recent years I have returned to the church of my childhood.  I am a Catholic.  This time last year I remembered these thoughts and confessed them to a priest.  I was ashamed to admit those things but relieved at the same time to purge myself of such thoughts.  There is no longer room inside for those things to stay.

Two weeks after the attacks I drove to Phoenix.  Upon arrival I stopped to get the car washed.  The 20 something year old guy and his buddy working there came over to assist me.  They saw the condition of my car and asked where I had traveled from.  When I said the Boston area the first one said, I hate Boston.  When I asked why he said “because they let that plane take off from there.”  As if the city had any control over it whatsoever.

In time I settled in here in Phoenix.  School began.  I made new friends.  A show that was popular at that time was Ally McBeal.  This was of course supposed to take place in Boston.  In between clips they showed different areas in downtown.  A man I had started dating was over and I was pointing out all the different places there I recognized.  All of the sudden it hit me out of the blue.  Boston.  I went from content to sobbing in about 30 seconds.  Somehow in the midst of packing and moving all this crap that was inside was coming out. 

The following summer I reluctantly flew home.  My Mom and I had plans to visit a friend of hers at the Maine coast.  I remembered the highway we were on as we headed up.  That night while trying to sleep I kept thinking about that highway.  I thought of those men in their car heading to Boston.  I thought of the people in the planes.  What was going through their heads?  I thought of the little girl that was heading to Disneyland with her family.  My heart started beating fast.  I kicked the covers off.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was sweating.  This night I witnessed my first ever panic attack.  For the next year I woke to the thoughts that this would be the day that I might die.  I had a strange obsession at the time with thinking I was going to die every day.  In time this faded. 

I wasn’t sure if I should share this here.  I don’t think I’ve ever written completely about this in my regular spiral-bound journal.  Some years the date feels like any other date on the calendar.  Other years not so much.  When my husband and I first started dating we were both watching a documentary on 9/11.  Again, just like after seeing scenes from Boston years ago on Ally McBeal,   I bawled without warning.  My husband watched in bewilderment.  “Oh yeah,” he said.  “I forgot you were from there.” 

These times have a place in the past and in the past they will stay.  I believe in forgiveness.  I believe in healing.  And hearing news of one person in Florida wanting to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11 makes absolutely as much sense as burning Bibles because Timothy McVeigh may have been a Christian.   Its beyond time for healing and moving forward.  I’m sure all of us could fill more than a half of a dozen books with where we were and what we experienced during those days.  This here is only one page.

17 thoughts on “9 Years Ago

  1. […] feel anything but indifference.  In some ways I suppose it could be closure for that horrible day if I felt something.  I did pray on it during my morning meditation.  Not for forgiveness which […]

  2. Tis good to write about it. It gets it out of you and others can also share. That was a horrible thing that happened. And I was also angered and shocked by the people dancing and celebrating what had happened.
    My husband views all of it as a foreigner (since he is); when this hogwash about that stupid man wanting to burn the Koran started up a frenzy with the media (how about that porn star facial hair), he stated there were some religious fanatics in the South (USA). I was quiet for a minute, and then agreed, because he is right. But then I said, there are some religious fanatics also saying Death to Americans and burning American things in return. Why can they not think, that man is in a minority of nutters? Why do they have to have such an extreme reaction? Lots of nutters over there too, apparently. My husband then agreed with me (and has not mentioned it since, wow).

    • Yeah, it was a long time coming I suppose. I heard later that the footage of people dancing in the streets was actually not even from after 9/11 and was taken much earlier. I’m not sure if there is any truth in that.

      My aunt lives in the same town as that guy in Florida. I guess he has been in trouble before for various things and his church got into trouble because they were all wearing t-shirts with bigoted slogans on it. Idiots. (I hear you about that moustache, too!) I am also in complete agreement about the exreme reactions. Does burning a holy book make the person it was intended to insult any less of a person of their faith? Or does burning the flag of ones country make the citizens of that country any less of a citizen? It’s such a useless act and a huge waste of time. I’ve heard it been said that no one can insult you without your permission (or something along that line) and I think that relates to all the dumb things that have been and are done by these closed minded individuals.

      • no one can insult you without your permission – I like that. And very true. On Tues, the bus driver on my way to work was such an arse about which stop I got off at…but I just smiled at him. (which burned him up) I walked to work from the bus stop thinking, Do not let him ruin your morning. And so I did not. Still is a jackass, though. 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! Very poignant and capturing. And it gives me personally a whole new insight. I never knew that the Bostonian took it – well out of the lack of vocabulary – so personal.
    I always only thought about NY and DC. But yes I understand why.

    If it’s any consolation, even though I wasn’t affected by this tragedy in any way, I still can’t watch pictures, clips, trailers, documentaries etc without feeling that my chest is being tied up and someone’s dragging really hard that I feel like I can’t breath, and my eyes water up big time.

    For me this is just the epiphany of human cruelty. How many people are actually capable of thinking of these kind of actions? Not in my wildest dreams, at my most angry, would I be able of thinking about something that is even close as evil.

  5. Hello..You had quite an experience..well told..I was there as I read..I find it curious they can determine the amount of explosives and damage..where the charges were placed..who physically did it..but beyond supposition and discriminatory direction of thought..they do not know who the movers and shakers were..even if there is documentation of something..anyone can do that..fraudulantly to pass the blame..nontheless it was a horrible act..I do not speak of it much but my family lost in that mess..not life thank god..every person on the face of the earth lost time and good feeling for one enormous gamble..by maniacs..Peace Tony

    • Crazy times they were, huh? My family doesn’t speak of it much either although I feel when I am back that the city of Boston has changed. Bostonians are suspicious people by nature (it was culture shock moving here) but in some ways I think this helps keep them vigilant. You last statement rings very true as well. Although it happened in our country, the global repercussions were astounding. I remember that Saudi Arabia took out a full page in the Boston Globe to express their sympathy. I’ve never seen a country do that before.

  6. Thanks for stopping by. It does help, doesn’t it? This is the first time I’ve shared this. Guess its just a hard thing to want to remember but time has a way of healing things. I just read your blog on the same subject. Wow! That must have been awful to be in another country when all this went down. I also was tearing up while writing this and had to take a few ‘breathers’. I saw the aftermath of Oklahoma City. Although the building at that point was torn down, there was still office furniture in what was the parking lot. It was very eerie. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Monsoon- I am amazed at what you went through, how “closely” the vents touched your life!! Don’t you think that the feelings you felt of dying were related to post traumatic stress disorder? I cannot imagine how much 9/11 affected you.

      I was across the country from where it took place and yet we were all also glued to the TV and so sad and shocked and fearful. What a terrible time.

      Thank you for sharing such a personal and difficult story with us I am touched that you shared your story with us. (hugs)

      • Hi Freedom. It did really get a little too close for comfort! I suppose it was some kind of post-traumatic stuff that I felt but I never thought about getting help because it just seem so normal where everyone I knew from home seem to be going through the same thing. Guess we all kept each other sane at that time.

  7. I am glad others are sharing their experiences, it helps. I just wrote on blog on where I was…and also on other major impact events…like Challenger and Oklahoma City.This is the first I have written about where I was, you are right, maybe we needed time. I was in the middle of the outback in Austrailia watching it unfold on FOX with about 300 Marines in an underground bunker. I WILL never forget. I couldn’t hold back tears writing it, even nine years later. You are right, we should never forget. Thanks for your post. Amie

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