9/11 tale

It’s been a crazy few days, buzzing with activity and daily life. School, work, family, love, fights, drama, laughter – the usual.  I do have funny things to tell you – like we finally let my high schooler get a Facebook account, the kids are both back in Sunday school (although technically it’s not on Sundays but logic isn’t involved in faith right?), and we decided to pull our son out of fall ball because our schedules needed a tone down. We’re going on a no-activity diet. Except for piano – which isn’t really an activity – it’s more like torture for them, fun for me. And why shouldn’t I have fun?

And then the weather. It’s been beautiful.  Which only makes anyone in and around NYC think of that day. Everyone’s got a story about that day, even if you were half way around the world, you have a story. Ours is pretty simple. We were living in the city, uptown, working mid-town.  I took a walk that morning in Carl Schulz park, got home, kissed my then 3 year old and went to work. By the time I got there the first tower had been hit.  The next few hours, days, weeks, months were like a surreal blur. We were lucky enough not to lose anyone in our family, although we do know people lost.

One of the clearest memories I have of 9/11 isn’t of that day, but about 3 weeks later. We had finally started planning events again, and travel restrictions for our firm had lifted.  I took a flight out of NYC to Rochester, NY.  It was the first time I flew after the tragedy.  Airports were a very strange place during that time, quieter than usual. Once I boarded and took my seat (window, always) it was a very short flight – maybe an hour.

When we began our landing, the pilot warned of strong winds and that we would probably have a bumpy stop.  But instead he landed and bounced back in the air. No announcement, no nothing. Then another attempted landing and bounce up. By the second time in the air, people were crying and praying. The woman next me, in a suit like me, had grabbed my hand and was sobbing. This was an early morning flight full of professionals that were probably seasoned travelers – not families or leisure flyers.  It was like being in a weird dream.  There were grown men crying. I was crying too – although I can’t tell you why. I wasn’t scared.  Worse things have happened on many of my flights – heavy turbulence, delays, steep drops, etc.

The third time down – the landing stuck. The pilot came out when we got to the gate and he apologized profusely for scaring the cabin and tried to lighten the mood by yelling, “third times the charm!”.  But no response, just a quiet exit out.

I was shaken and thought about canceling my flight back (which was that day) but I shook it off.  That’s basically how I think the whole country felt – emotional and raw but unwilling to change how we lived.

I still have a very hard time watching the unending specials on 9/11. That day and time are so real for me that I don’t need to, and don’t want to, get any more details.  I can’t take any more angles of the towers coming down and ash covered people.  It’s all too much.

This past weekend my daughter volunteered at a local memorial, 18 people were lost from the small town we live in now, which is 90 miles from NYC.  I thought about that day, the days after, and the fact that she was an oblivious, happy, free of sadness 3 year old when it happened.  She had some questions when she came back, and we talked about some details. At 14 I still want her to be unburdened by the enormity of that day, but it’s helped ease the blow to see it through her eyes.