Eight years ago today

Eight years ago today, I was sitting in an office in Kendall Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, planning for a conference I was set to attend the next day in Washington, DC.

Someone said something about a plane hitting a building in New York.  My first thought was, “not likely,” and my second was, “if it did happen, it had to have been a small aircraft.”

Shows what I know.

I don’t remember how it was that the urgency of that morning swept through our open-plan office, or why I ended up standing in front of the tiny television in our break room, staring at a commercial jet jammed into one of the Twin Towers, and then – the other.  I do remember the receptionist asking me to pick up the phone: a friend, knowing I lived in Boston and traveled a great deal, had called me from Louisiana to make sure I was safe.  I numbly told her I was.

A few hours later, we were told we could go home, encouraged to hug our families.  I fled out into the incongruous fall sunshine, darted towards the apartment that was only recently “home” to me.

My mother came over.  I know we hugged.  We must have cried.

I used to work for a company that had its headquarters across the street from those tall, tall towers.  I had left on good terms a few months prior, and my boss and colleagues treated me to champagne at Windows on the World.  That spring day, the fog was thick outside the windows and the famous view replaced by a vista of flat gray.  Inside the bar, white uniforms had moved among dark business suits.  Fleet Week.   We had laughed.  Only in New York.

I spent a lot of time that day trying to track down former colleagues, friends.  One had been driving in to work, saw the first plane.  She had called human resources from her car, told HR to get everyone out of the building as the unthinkable unrolled in front of her.  When I spoke to her, her voice was a thread.  My former boss, the woman who had treated me to champagne that spring day, had walked 50 flights of stairs to get to ground level.  I don’t know how she actually got home.  Those 50 flights were only the beginning.

John drove up, and we sat on the front steps, drinking and talking.  Confusion and helplessness seemed to be all we were capable of.  The luxury of the everyday was going to be a while coming.


  1. All of my friends who were normally in the Twin Towers were not there that day. One was on a late train, one was taking his son to school, one was working in Boston for the week, and so forth. I sat here watching as they all checked in and was amazed at their survival, and grieved at the loss of so many others.
    .-= Marilee J. Layman´s last blog ..Batman Begins =-.