Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with fashion or beauty, but in the same way that I am a little all over the place, figured my blog may as well follow suit. To not somehow commemorate the 10th Anniversary of September 11th feels weird to me, even if doing so on my girly blog with a pink logo, rounded fonts and images of lipglosses and flare leg denim everywhere is an odd place for it. As I have said before, I work with what I’ve got.
On September 11, 2001 I was twenty-two years old, bright eyed, super excited to be living on my own in New York City. I had landed a highly coveted job at American Express, an amazing apartment on the 28th floor with views as far downtown as the eye could see, my entire post-Penn life in front of me, unscripted.
How vividly I recall that morning is part of why it is so hard to believe ten years has gone by. But I guess that is how it goes with days where your life forever changes unexpectedly. I can remember the conversations I had with my dad the day he passed away, and, on a happier note, the details of the night I met my husband.
I got dressed up in my “AmEx” best- grey capri trousers, a plum BCBG mohair knit sleeveless turtleneck , and Donald J. Pliner kitten heels. Always punctual, I hopped on the N/R around 8:30am, hoping to make it to the World Trade Center stop by 8:45 so I could pop into an eyeglass store in the downstairs mall and pick out new frames before walking over to my cubicle in the World Financial Center.
When I got out of the subway, it must have been seconds after the first plane struck. People were in what I can best call “amused disbelief”, chatting animatedly about how a small prop plane accidentally ran into the building. More out of interest to see what happened than anything else, we all made our way out of the underground mall to the street. I don’t even think the fact that people were in that building had set in yet. It didn’t seem fathomable that it could have been anything but a freak mistake.
I remember standing there for many minutes, staring up blankly. People were starting to get frantic, but nobody knew anything. Figuring that this had made the news and my parents must have seen it, I decided to call my dad and let him know I was okay. Cell phones weren’t working well, so I found a payphone in a gym basement and my dad filled me in on the news reports- that it was a passenger plane, and something was definitely going on. He told me to get the hell out of the Financial District, so, I hustled in my kitten heels back out to the street, and right about then, the second plane hit.
Here is when my timeline gets fuzzy. I was still so new to the city, I didn’t know how to get home- the streets down there don’t follow the same grid so it is easy to get turned around. Droves of people, were slowly making their way uptown, stopping every few steps to look back at the chaos, screaming, crying, or, in my case, simply staring in shock and trying to figure out how to get home. I remember paper floating everywhere- it was raining copy paper and dust.
Then, the first tower imploded in on itself-the sounds, the debris, the smoke- so loud, so fast. I quickened my step and grabbed the arm of a man close to me who was running fast and seemed to know where he was going. I felt like I was in a video game, desperately outrunning a monster. Shopkeepers in Chinatown started giving out flip flops to passers-by hobbling in heels, and for the next 30 blocks, whoever I happened to fall into step with would become my temporary new best friend.
That night is the only time in my life I slept with all the lights on and the tv at full volume.
Personally, I don’t feel right waxing poetic on how that day changed my life. Of course it changed my life. It changed all of our lives. It changed everything. The families of the victims are the ones who, in my opinion, own the memories and the narrative of September 11th.
What I will say is this- ten years later, watching the retrospectives of that day is a million times more emotional for me than it was in real time. In 2001, I was a care-free twenty-something, looking in from the outside. Even though I was there, I wasn’t “there”, if that makes sense.
Now, at 32, married to the sweetest husband in the world who cares about nothing more than taking care of our eight-month old daughter and me, I simply can’t imagine how the families were/are able to cope with a tragedy so huge. Watching the reading of the names, especially listening to the wives and the children, is absolutely gut-wrenching.
I wish I had a profound, perfect sentence to end this on, but I don’t. So I will simply remind myself- here, in writing to be referred back to whenever I need a good kick- in-the-a** reality check- how freaking lucky I am.