On 9/11, J and I were sleeping in. The phone rang, and we ignored it. It rang again. J crawled out of bed and answered it. It was our good buddy Scott. I could tell from his tone of voice that something was wrong. He was in the living room, and turned on the TV. He told me to turn on the TV in the bedroom. The second tower had just been hit by another plane. At the time, there was a lot of confusion. Nobody knew it was a terror attack yet. There was speculation that it was a horrific accident. Of course nobody suspected we were really under attack, not *really*. It was too impossible to believe.
We watched TV all morning. I remember emailing my mom, who was at work and had no clue what was going on. She usually listens to the radio at a very low level, and told me that she'd heard some joke about two planes crashing, but hadn't bothered to turn it up for details. I emailed her back immediately to tell her it was no joke, and to turn up the radio.
We had the TV in the living room on one news channel, the TV in the bedroom on a second channel. I had CNN.com up on one computer, andMSNBC.com on the other.
J's childhood friend, Jared, attended Wagner College at the time, on Long Island. We spoke to him online later that day, and he told us he watched the towers fall from a dorm room. He must have been upwind.
My best friend at the time, Meagan, was from New Jersey. She had cousins who worked in the towers. She and I talked all day. She lived in South Beach at the time. If you've ever been to Miami, you see shipping containers EVERYwhere. For every cruise liner you see, there are just as many international shippers around. She told me the ports were a disaster because that afternoon they weren't letting any of the ships in.
I remember going to work later that day; I had to work from 2 to 11 at Home Depot. I remember thinking it was surreal, that we shouldn't be working. I remember thinking everything should be shut down. I also remember more than one customer buying multiple filter masks. I helped paint the empty paint cans that we put on every available counter space, for people to make donations. Home Depot made overwhelming donations, and I remember being proud to see on the news all the orange buckets used at Ground Zero to haul away debris as they looked for survivors in the rubble.
Prior to 9/11, I had nightmares. J had always wanted to be a cop, and I had nightmares of losing him to the call of duty. They were sometimes strange dreams; I remember one where a school gym was basically a hell-hole, kind of like something you'd see in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Obviously I'd had too much pizza late that night. In the dream we'd hear screams coming from the building, and I'd desperately try to hang on to J, to stop him from going in. His response was always something like, "But I have to go, people need me." I'd never see him again in the dream. Often waking up in a cold sweat, making sure he was still next to me. Other times they were more generic dreams, but I still lost him to the call of duty. After 9/11, I never had one of those nightmares again. It had come true for so very many people.
I want Clive Ian Thompson to have a few days of tribute, so I probably won't be updating for a few days. I can't believe five years has gone by already.