Monday, September 11, 2006

Sad day.

Today kind of snuck up on me. I can't believe it's been five years since 9/11. It feels like no time at all to me - even though since that day I've changed jobs twice, moved twice, met my husband, and celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. I wonder it if feels like just yesterday for the poor families touched the closest by this tragedy.

I was living in Bethesda MD, just a few miles from Washington DC. I was standing in the lab at work with a few other people, talking quietly as we did in the morning, setting up our respective experiments for the day. Another guy came in - walking briskly to his office as he was later than normal - and mentioned that he had just heard on the radio that a small engine plane had hit the WTC. And our morning talk about what we ate for dinner the night before, changed to a discussion on how a person could fly themselves into a large building. We thought - new pilot - bad luck - heart attack - or simple stupidity. Our experiments set up, we got our coffees and returned to our desks to check email and read the news like every morning. But we couldn't get on the internet. I told one of my officemates about the guy that flew his personal airplane into a building in NY, and after trying forever to get onto CNN, she turned on her radio. And this is when we realized it was not a personal jet, but a large commercial plane. My officemates and I took our coffees into the room next door which was the largest office room - and found everyone congregated around one person's desk. Somehow he had managed to get the internet up long enough to log onto CNN finance live video, where they were of course no longer talking about finance. We watched the video in horror as the anchorman reported on suspicions that the hit may not have been an accident. That the airplane had been hijacked.

I called my mom. The first tower fell while I was on the phone with her, and through the receiver I heard the report on her television, the emotion and the chaos. My cell phone had no service. I couldn't get in touch with my roommate. I couldn't check my email. All worked stopped. Experiments were forgotten. We watched the CNN video, all of us, crowding around the computer monitor. Silent. When the plane hit the Pentagon, we couldn't believe it. The news said the Washington mall had been hit and showed the fire. We saw it right there on the video feed. We saw the Pentagon on fire and they said there was a fire in the White House. That the White House had been hit - by what - they did not know. Later that night we learned that many of the reports were false but, standing in that office, we thought Washington DC was being attacked. Our company closed - but we just stayed there watching the small pop-up window on CNN waiting for updates. And then we made a pact to all leave at the same time.

When I left, I was the only car on the entire highway. Washington DC, the city with the second worst traffic in the country, was absolutely deserted. Helicopters flew over me, not the news kind of helicopters, but the military kind. I finally got in touch with my roommate and she was ten minutes from home. I paced the few minutes I was home alone, and then we sat on the couch for like five days straight and watched the news.



At 11:29 AM, Blogger eddie said...

Very nice :)
Maybe we exchange links? - my blog.
If so then write me on mail, or speak in comments on my site :)


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