I know you all are probably going to see a lot of these kind of posts today. Feel free to skip it if you so desire. It's just something I've never really talked about before and it started writing itself one day last week. I was gonna turn off comments, but I never really like doing that. And I'm not sure what I am saying is what I really wanted to say, but I still felt better after typing it all out than I did beforehand. - Earl
I was a 34 year-old man/child the morning that the planes hit the Towers. Mostly child.
I was on my way to work a little late that day after golfing 9 holes in the morning with a friend of mine. I had just pulled into the parking lot when reports came in of a small commuter plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. A very close friend worked in the South Tower so I called him immediately to see if he was okay. The phone rang for a few minutes and then went to voice mail. I figured everything was fine. It had to be. The alternative was unthinkable.
Then the voice on the radio said that it wasn't a small commuter plane, but a large passenger jet. And then the awful news that another jet had hit the second tower. The unthinkable had occurred.
Everything changed after that.
I've never really talked about it with anyone besides Gia, but I'm still not over the events of that day. I doubt I will ever be over them. My friend made it out of there alive as did just about everyone else I know who could have perished that day. My uncle had the day off as did my brother in-law who works as a NYC firefighter. His company, however, lost a few souls. As did most stations. He, of course, jumped in his car and spent the next several days in a Hell that I cannot begin to imagine.
I don't remember a lot of specific events from that day. No time line of specific events. No lasting images burned into my memory. Well, mostly.
I do remember the look on the face of one of the women who worked for me when she said that the towers were falling. She just wanted to go home and be with her family. I didn't blame her. Had it not been for that moment, I probably would have already forgotten about her entirely. She was that kind of faceless colleague. Faceless no longer.
I drove around aimlessly that afternoon. I was gonna try to get to my friend's home in Queens to make sure he was okay, but most of the roads were closed except for emergency vehicles. But I made it close enough to the city to see and smell the smoke before being turned around by the police. In retrospect, I wish I had just stayed closer to home.
I can't help but think how my life has changed since then. I was a corporate workaholic when that day began. 80 hour work weeks weren't uncommon, nor were Sundays spent in the office. It's just what I did. I didn't even think about it. Within a year I was working from home and vowing never to work in an office again. Not because what happened on 9/11 might happen again, but because I had turned a page.
Everything hasn't turned out exactly the way I hoped. I'm certainly not doing as well financially as I was before. But I have Gia, and that makes up for a lot. I don't really know if anything would be different had we not been attacked that day. I really don't. But if the changes in my life since that day are a coincidence, then it's a pretty strong coincidence.
One odd reminder of the day is a recurring dream I have. Some of the details change, but the main gist of the dream is always the same. I'm a successful professional living and working in NYC. I've been a doctor, a stock broker, a lawyer and even a pitcher for the Yankees. I'm on my way to work when the Towers get hit. Instead of continuing on toward work, I head over to Ground Zero to help with the rescue effort. I spend what seems like days helping the rescue professionals do their thing before I am finally sent home. I always take the subway and I'm shocked to see that everyone is already going on with their lives. They don't even notice that I am caked in dust and soot. But I don't go home. I go straight to work and head to the bathroom to clean up. The dream always ends with me resuming whatever job it was that I was doing before that day. At a desk trading stocks, pitching in Yankee Stadium, meeting with patients at a hospital. I had moved on.
If only it was that simple.