Sunday, September 11, 2011
Where were you? Taken out of context, that question could mean anything. Asked today however, everyone knows exactly what is being asked without having to clarify. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has memories of that day that will not fade with the passage of time.
I was late that morning. About a month earlier I had started a new job at Crate and Barrel in Manhasset on Long Island, New York as a department manager. On September 10th, 2011, I remarked that I hated getting stuck in traffic on the way to work in the mornings, so a coworker showed me a shortcut home. The next morning at 8:30, I got in my car and headed off to work, trying to recreate the shortcut backwards. I missed a turn somewhere and turned off the radio around 8:45 so that I could concentrate on getting to work. At 9:02 I clocked in and scrambled to the sales floor for morning stocking. I arrived breathless, ready to start my day when I realized that the mood at work was markedly different from what it usually was. A minute later as I stood helping stock the black and green dinnerware, my co-worker, Jackie, told me that two planes had hit the trade towers. Immediately I remember thinking, "What a shame! And what are the odds, two planes hitting both towers?" I remembered that a plane had hit the Empire State Building at one point in time, and after all that had been an accident. Like so many others, I couldn't fathom that this had been anything other than an accident. Tragically, it quickly became all too clear that this was no accident, that we were under attack.
I remember that day being so surreal, my boss soon brought radios to the registers because otherwise every one of us would have been in the stock rooms, listening to the news. Not that it would have mattered, no one was buying anything anyway.
I remember tears coming to my eyes upon hearing that the south tower had fallen as I stood by the freight elevator.
I remember the woman who came in to make a return apologizing, but telling us that she had it in her car and she just didn't know what else to do with herself. She didn't want to be alone.
I remember my husband coming in to the store, and even though I knew he hadn't been in danger seeing him brought an enormous sense of relief to me as he enveloped me in his arms and held tight.
I remember that my boss pulled us all together around noon and told us that we were closing the store, but that we had to unload our usual Tuesday truck before we could leave, as the driver couldn't leave with a full truck. Normally, it took 8-9 hours to finish such a feat. We finished in just over an hour.
I remember our boss stopping everyone at the door to make sure that everyone had a place to go or a ride, since several of our co-workers took the bus to and from home. With all mass transit shut down, she didn't want anyone to be stuck.
I remember how eerie it was to have the store darkened in the middle of the afternoon on such a beautiful day.
I remember the miles of cars parked on the road, since the bridges and tunnels in and out of the city were closed and any traffic heading towards Queens was at a standstill.
I remember coming home and driving past Manhasset Bay, where on a clear day you could see the towers. That day, I could see the plumes of smoke rising from where the buildings once stood.
I remember the phone ringing off the hook when I got home, all our friends and family calling to make sure we were ok.
I remember making sure that both of my uncles, who lived in Manhattan at the time, were home and unhurt.
I remember the relief when I heard their voices.
I remember getting in the car to go find somewhere to donate blood. Traffic was at a standstill and in three hours we turned around and headed home again, having made it less than a mile.
I remember being glued to the TV, even though it was the same 20 minutes of footage we weren't able to turn it off.
I remember hanging a flag beach towel in our window. We didn't have an actual flag, this was the best we could do.
I remember the unclaimed cars at the train station.
I remember my heart aching for those I had never met, for such tremendous loss in such a short time. It still aches today.
I remember. I will never forget.
Today is not a day for recipes or craft projects. Today is a day to remember those who died, to hug our children and take the time to cuddle before bedtime. Today is a day to appreciate life and to remember not to take anything for granted because it could all be gone in an instant. Today is a gift, not to be wasted. God Bless those who were lost, and God Bless those who lived to remember.
Posted by Ashli at 12:11 PM