It’s September 10th, 2001 around 8pm and I’m staying at my sister’s place in New Jersey, a short train ride to NYC. I’m talking to Mom about my day tomorrow. I had just graduated college and was on a mission to get employment in New York City. Every day that week I pounded NYC pavement. Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown. 12 interviews, all discouraging for a recent grad hoping for at least a $30,000 salary with benefits.
“Why don’t you stay home tomorrow. Work on tightening up your resume. Make a plan of attack so you aren’t all over the city.” Good plan, I decide. I’m cancelling that interview. I wake up the next morning and pour a cup of coffee, my phone is buzzing. “Are you downtown?” a friend asks. No, I stayed in NJ, why? Turn on the news.
I called my Dad. He was working remotely in Ohio and I knew he would be worried. “Oh, I’m not sure I should disturb him, honey. But I’m watching this now, I don’t know what to do” his secretary sung back. You have to disturb him. March yourself into his meeting and hand him a post-it that says your daughter is okay. I’m 22 years old and she is 45 years old and together over the phone we realize the direness of the situation. I had an interview downtown today.
I don’t know my soon to be husband is in NY. I don’t know that he gets to his apartment around 11am and worries about his roommates in the financial district. I don’t know yet that he breathes a huge sigh of relief when they finally come home covered in ash and filth with human flesh nestled deeply into the threads of their suits.
I don’t know that my now brother in law’s best friend is lost within the rubble. I was with him and my sister in their apartment that morning. The morning we set up “Command Station A” and called our Moms to check in and cried in a corner together when someone set off fireworks that night. Bryan never got to become a Groomsman in my sister’s wedding.
I don’t know that I’ll meet a lovely woman in the town that my future husband and I will live in, her Dad lost in the towers when she was 15. I don’t know that one of my soon to be best adult friends will share with me that her Dad worked in the towers. That he had a last minute conference in Florida that day and survived all of his colleagues.
I don’t know what I didn’t know. We don’t ever know, do we? And that’s the horrifying, gorgeous way of life. We just don’t know. So we strap on… and fucking hold on tight.