Sunday, September 11, 2011

That Day

My story from that day isn't really a story at all.

I had never been to New York. I had no reason to worry that anyone I knew or loved was on an airplane, in the tower, or in the Pentagon. I didn't lose a loved one.

I was thousands of miles away. There is no story at all, but it will still be one that I tell my children.

It was Tuesday. That morning, like every morning, Hubster and I, newlyweds, woke up together, had breakfast, and watched the morning news before heading off for our days. We turned the TV off and left our house at 6:30 am. Hubster left for work and I boarded the commuter train for school. I promptly curled up in my seat, preparing to nap on the nearly hour commute up to the university campus. About half way into the commute, I starting hearing people around me talking frantically. Phones started going off every where on the train. I specifically remember, through my sleepy haze, one man standing in the aisle, nearly yelling into his phone, "The first tower has come down!"

I had no idea what he was talking about, but the conversations all around started to contain the same phrases, "planes," "New York," "towers."

When I got of the train, I made my way to my organic chemistry discussion group, and started asking people what was going on. Didn't I know, people said. How did I not know what had happened? But I didn't. I had left my house 16 minutes before anything had happened. Slowly, I started to piece the story together. Our discussion leader never came to class. After 20 minutes, students started filing out. I made my way over to my calculus class. My calculus professor, who had gone to school at Columbia University, came into the lecture hall in tears. He leaned against the lecture podium, barely in control of himself, and announced that due to the events of the morning, there would be no lecture.

I wandered around campus, not sure what to do. I didn't have a cell phone. I had no way to contact anyone, to make sure people knew. Standing outside the student union, I saw my first footage of the attacks. At that point, I knew that I had to go home. I made my way back to the train and rode home, lost in thought.

When I got to my station, Hubster was waiting for me on the platform. He had been waiting for me for nearly a hour, sure that I would be coming home early. I wasn't expecting him to be there, but I wasn't surprised. We held each other for several moments there on the train platform as people rushed around us. We then drove home in shocked silence.

The next 24 hours were spent in front of the television. Hubster and I sat side by side, holding hands, barely speaking, as we took in image after horrible image.

In the days that followed, American flags starting showing up everywhere. I donated blood. We started talking about what this meant. We started hearing the stories. Stories of terror, stories of sacrifice, stories of heroism.

My story isn't one of those. But 10 years later, the events and emotions of that day are just as vivid as they were Tuesday, September 11, 2001.


  1. I had never been to New York either. I couldn't grasp the magnitude of it, but, like you, I sat for hours and days in silence just watching and crying and trying to understand.

    You may not have been directly impacted, but your story is every bit as important.

  2. I am still haunted. I just don't get it.


  3. I remember saying to my dear ones the night before: something is hanging so heavy..its like a calm before a storm and everybody here is eating dinner or playing basket ball and no body is aware that something really big and really awful is about to happen... as still there was nothing else to do but eat dinner and do routine things because we couldn't know just what was to happen or how to help it. While our hands are helpless, still our hearts hovered over America! Thanks for the tribute!

  4. I stood on the observation tower of one of the buildings in 1991. Hard to imagine that just 10 years later they (and SO much more) were gone.

    We found out what happened when my brother (in Boston on business) called mom and had the news on while they talked. She ran into my room and told me to turn on the tv, just in time to see the 2nd tower hit.

    My brother had to rent a car and drive to Connecticut, where we have relatives, and stay with them til planes were allowed to fly again.