Everyday musings that may provide some explanation to AnotherWhen.com, a playground for personal ideas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembrance 1

I remember walking up the street towards them. The decision to go home rather than sleep over my girlfriends (at the time) house seemed the wisest. She has class in a few hours and I...well I had nothing to do. The part time job I had did not require me to be in the office the next day and the new job had not started yet. New job. First full time job out of college. It makes me laugh now looking back on it. This new job was going to be a stepping stone. It was going to launch me to new heights.

I envisioned that after a few years of work I would build my empire on the back of a successful start up company. As I got in my car and drove around the block I imagined what life would be like. How I would take care of my parents, and relax on the balcony of my apartment. Lofty ideas of a naive college graduate. The ultimate dream, though, was my office. I knew it was a stretch but I made a promise to myself: One day I would look out of the window of my office in one of towers that lay before me. Who in the business world wouldn't want to be in the World Trade Center? It was 3 in the morning Tuesday September 11th, 2001.

I am only talking about this now because 1) we all know what anniversary it is and 2) I travel through the site just about everyday. Everywhere I turned today there were images and stories saying "We will not forget" or "Remember". I couldn't escape it if I tried. And because of this what I remembered today is that I had forgotten. I travel through the WTC PATH train all of the time and I have stopped looking/remembering. I have taken it for granted and forgot everything that happened that day. I travel through the site just about everyday and I see tourists, tour groups, politicians, and activists especially today. Today it finally it hit me what I had forgotten and made me realize that ALL of these people had too. To them it seems like a novelty. A picture to show the folks back home, proof of their accomplishments, a piece or real estate, a paycheck, or another place to say you traveled to. Similar admiring the view while visiting slave quarters, the Killing Fields, Nanjing memorial, or the Holocaust museum (let alone the actual locations).

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Remembrance 2

I remember being woken up by my mom telling me one of the towers was hit. Odd I thought. Odd. Strange. Something not quite right. By the time I had gotten clothes on and made the first of many calls to check on her I was in time to hear the news announcement of the second plane. By the time I was opening the car my mom was at the door saying I couldn't get into the city the roads were blocked. It didn't matter to me but she was right. Route 280 was blocked before West Orange ended. The detour brought me passed the Highlawn Pavilion and the Eagle Rock reservation and its views of New York City.

I don't remember my dad ever crying. Always stoic but when he got home the first thing he did was hug me tight and cry. God I never realized how much I miss him. He was said he was so glad I was at home and not in the city. Me, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wished I was there. Everyone knows how bad the cell phone service was that day. I barely got in touch with anyone that day. My ex and her friends always cut through the towers to get to
Pace University. A friend of mine worked across the street at the time. Another friend of mine worked in one of the towers. Funny how I never called her at work before that day. Some friend I am, huh. Anyway everyone also knows how the day evolved. A day. One day. But then I remember it taken SO long. Phone call after uncompleted phone call. Messages upon messages. Me attempting local roads trying to bypass the highways being detoured here and there. Learning of the Pentagon by radio and being glued to the TV when I finally resigned myself to the fact I wasn't going anywhere.

The day of horror brought out good too in people in different ways. As the day went on I found out everyone was safe. The ex had gotten on one of the boats that ferried people between
Jersey City and Battery Park. Once in Jersey City a man was offering rides to anyone heading towards Livingston. When she arrived she was covered in soot. Kind of like images of coal miners or fire fighters. Instead of black soot though she was covered in gray. Gritty to the touch and smelling of dust. She cried in my bed while trying to call her parents and tell her she was alright. It took weeks of washing to get rid of the glass and grit. I remember her crying saying she did not know where her friends were in all of the chaos.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembrance 3

They were in the tower when the first plane hit. They tried to stay inside but decided to leave when they heard the second plane hit. During the confusion she was separated from one of her friends but met up with others back at her dorm on West Street in the shadow of the Towers. Later we learned that the friend she lost was struck on the head by falling debris on the way out. People helped her up and away from the building. But we did not know it at the time. By the time she connected with her parents she the world knew the World Trade Center was no more. People did not know who was alive dead missing or buried. Her parents were worried that she was at the black boy’s house. I remember laughing at how certain people could really prioritize the important things in the face of loss.

I remember the sights and the smell a few weeks later when the police began letting residents in to gather their belongings. Seared into my memory is the trying to distinguish between the smell of air, sewage, dust, and a smell of something that I wished decomposing but knowing that it was. The police warned us that if we did find "something" do not touch it but just to notify them on the way out. His warning had stated that "some" was already found. He did not know it but it was her friend in the room next door who had already found "something" and decided to leave everything in there. I don't blame her. We only left with a hand full of things. The smell was over everything.

My friends were part of the lucky ones. No one I knew perished. But I started to forget that people, many people, I did not know did. I am trying to write down how I feel now so that I will remember the tragedy of that day. How I made myself a promise that I have forgotten. How I was going to conquer the world. This way I will remember what did happen that day and what could have happen that day. How people were still good despite the bad of that day. I will remember no matter how bad I thought that day was at least my dad was still alive and he loved me. I want to remember that no matter how bad things there was always something worse and something better. I want to remember so that I can use it as a swift kick in the pants for being so lazy. Dreams and promises are just ideal thoughts and naive ideas that never been made manifest. However, I can, despite tragedy, still strive to make them real.

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