Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where were you when...

This meme is doing the rounds. I'm going to cheat though and just do:

Where were you when there was the Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001

I was in New York in my hotel room getting ready for the day(it was morning ). I was alone as my then partner had gone back a few days earlier to go to work and I had decided to stay on a bit longer. I had TV in the background and heard a plane had crashed into one of the towers. Prior to that the news had been about Magic Johnson and I remember thinking isn't there anything else going on in the world. It sounded as though it was a small aircraft, the news was patchy. No journalists seemed to be there yet, reports were relying on people ringing in with eyewitness accounts. I went for my shower and came back to see the news of the second plane.

I decided to go out to see what was happening (I was staying mid town, but it was clear from the skyline). The hotel staff advised me to stay where I was but I didn't.
I walked to the Rockefeller Centre and watched the news ticker tape , the Pentagon plane came up .I wondered what else was going to happen.

People were looking at the skies .

I walked around , sitting in cafes and bars. I talked to people , watching the news with them.
I sat in central Park and watched people flinch as the sound of a plane went over. It was military as everything else was grounded.

I rang home . My ex at the time had seen it on the screen where he worked. He was scared as I had said I might pop down there . My mother was worried. Then it got hard to ring later as lines went down.

I spent the rest of the week trapped as I couldn't get a flight out. I remember the smell in the air , a mixture which included building, plane and bodies. No one of course voiced that last element.

On the news and on boards in the street people showed pictures of people , asking if anyone had seen them. No one really wanted to let go of the hope.

Stories were emerging of people jumping .

I expected a military response from the US and I wanted to get home. That day no one could get out of New York or in, roads were closed off and no public transport was running. For a few days after there were no flights. I felt panic .

I wandered about observing people for that week.

I thought back to the night before 9/11. I had stopped off at the Twin Towers. I went under to the shops below . It was rush hour and people were going down to the subway under the Towers. I watched the people in and out of the lifts, the shoe shine stands and pottered into Borders for a coffee . I pondered whether to go up to the 'Windows on the World' and look out at that view, but I'm a bit scared of heights.I thought perhaps I would come back later. I then went to find a bus back and got lost wandering around in the rain. The weather had been hot but that night there was thunder and hard rain . I looked up at the lightening behind the skyscrapers .

I wondered what became of those people I saw who were there working in the shops ands the Towers.

Eventually I got a flight out. As I sat in the boarding area the TV screen was on. As with all that week there were very little 'normal' programmes. I watched as the footage of the planes hitting the Towers was replayed. I tried to stay calm about getting on a plane . The security had not exactly been tight at the airport. I rang home and then boarded .

Getting back I felt disorientated. People were laughing on the train and airport, suntanned from returning from their Greek Hols and such. My head was still full of the horrors I had left behind.

I found 'normalness' disconcerting and realised I was probably still in shock.

I watched the news now from a distance .


The other 'where were you when's ' are :

"Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997"
"Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990"
"England's World Cup Semi Final v Germany in - 4 July 1990"
"President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963"
oh and of course" When David Broder left the AWL."

I won't tag, either add to the comments or post on your blog if you want.