I wrote this a year ago, but still a memory forever…
September 11, 2001
It was a perfectly beautiful day. The sky was crystal blue with puffy white clouds, and the temperature barely reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I was working out to my favorite kickboxing/self-defense video in the living room of our 1,020 square foot two-bedroom rancher at the edge of a well-known wildlife refuge in Southern New Jersey, sweating my ass off in an attempt to lose those 55 pounds gained during pregnancy two and a half years prior. As was the daily protocol, the kid attempted to thwart my every move by strategically moving her kiddie table and chairs, along with various other toys and stuffed animals, in an attempt to cease all exercise. The kid just didn’t like me to exercise…ever. No matter what I did, where or when I did it, the kid just wasn’t having any of it. Perhaps she thought of it as play time. Or maybe she just thought it was funny to watch mommy dancing around, punching and kicking like a beached whale desperate to roll off shore into the ocean where I would exist weightless from Earth’s gravity. Whatever the case may be, the only other thing I remember was the cordless phone with the caller ID announce voice informing me, “Call from Mom.” Desperately wishing to make it through one workout video without interruption as I flailed my way past miniature tables and chairs, teddy bears, mega blocks and crayons, I refused to answer the phone. Mom and I talked almost daily and had seen one another at least five times a week over the past summer, my parents’ pool being the end-all-of-be-all for the kid since she could hold her head up.
The answering machine picked up the call as I listened to my mother’s panic-stricken voice on the line, “They’re attacking us! Please pick up! We’re being attacked! Are you watching?!” Not quite understanding what the hell she was talking about, I picked up the phone, pissed off that my routine had been broken, no thanks to the kid’s daily shenanigans and my mother’s constant anxiety. But this time it wasn’t about psychological tension.
Immediately turning off the VCR, I clicked on the channel to CNN (my go-to news source at the time and the first station to utilize the scrolling news bar on 9/11) and watched as giant plumes of black and white smoke bellowed from One World Trade Center’s North Tower. My only thought of, “What the f**k is going on?” replayed in my brain as mom relayed the scenes she witnessed on the ABC, CBS and NBC news shows she and dad religiously watched every morning since retiring in 1988.
My brain refused to believe what my eyes were seeing. A commercial airliner had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, a building that had been completed when I was five-years-old, its sister South Tower being completed at the age of seven.
Watching as the North Tower burned, I leapt up and screamed as I witnessed on my television a plane crashing into the South Tower. I trustingly informed my mother that I needed to hang up in order to contact the hubby and would respond to her as soon as I spoke to him about what was going on. The hubby was and still is my main source of informative news, his predictions always 100% spot on (excepting Trump, that is – sorry dude).
As I questioned the hubby, it dawned on me that he was completely clueless as to the morning’s events. How was that possible?! How could he not know anything?! Frantically updating him on mom’s phone call and the burning North Tower followed by the plane crashing into the South Tower, I begged him to come home. To my dismay, the hubby refused to leave work early. I do believe the amount of calls I made to him that day are the most he’s ever had from me since the day we met, January 21, 1989.
The Pentagon is on fire, apparently as a result of another plane. This isn’t happening…we’re being attacked?!
Collapsing to the floor as I watched the South Tower crumble in a matter of seconds, the kid finally stopped f***ing around and realized how serious the matter had become.
Another plane crashes somewhere in Pennsylvania. Coincidence or related? This is f**cked up!
The North Tower buckles in seconds flat. At this point I’m a disheveled mess on the floor of my living room as the kid attempts to cheer me up by bringing me more toys.
Glued to the television set the entire day, I watched as the west side of lower Manhattan collapsed piece by piece into the rush hour. All planes in the U.S. were grounded and/or ordered to land regardless of their route. Rescue teams began desperately searching for survivors as I crumpled into the couch still sobbing from the day’s events. Waking up the next day with CNN still blaring from the t.v., the scrolling news bar listing the names of each and every passenger aboard each plane, I lost my s**t when the names of two sisters, ages two and four, rolled swiftly across the screen, along with the names of their parents…
The next 48 hours were the quietest I’ve ever experienced in this life on the planet.
I watched CNN 24/7 for two months straight, hoping to find some sense in a day that had none. I watched to the point where I couldn’t function. I watched to the point where I couldn’t watch anymore…and then I just turned the television set off.
I haven’t watched or read any news since that day. I’m not kidding – I HAVE NOT WATCHED OR READ THE NEWS SINCE DECEMBER 2001. Hence the hubby still being my main source of informative news…
The following year I would watch the French documentary 9/11, followed by every and any other documentary available about that day, still trying to make sense of impossible nonsense…and then we found out about Osama Bin Laden…who would be killed ten long years after the fact…
Needless to say, whenever I worked out after that day, the kid was ever present, f**king around, bringing me stuff and trying to make me laugh…until we joined a gym together fourteen years later…and now I try to make her laugh…