I’ll say at the outset of this posting that I don’t have anything particularly revelatory or important to share about 9/11.
But as today is the fifth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, I felt a certain obligation to post something on my blog to commemorate the day.
To me, 9/11 will always be associated with my first week at a new job.
I had started just the day before, on Monday, September 10, 2001, and all was good. My manager and I discussed how successful the company had been so far that year and how it would affect our year-end bonuses, and I was excited about the change in my career and the challenges that laid ahead.
The next day, I was meeting with the operations coordinator about my benefits package when people started to gather in the back conference room of our office, which is where the television was. The towers had been hit and no one was quite sure what was going on.
Like those in offices all over the country, we were all glued to the screen and unable to really do much else but watch — and try to find our friends and family.
I remember not being able to get through to my sister, who had recently moved to Brooklyn, where she had a great view out her window of South Street Seaport and the Twin Towers.
People started to go home, but since it was only my second day on the job, I didn’t want to go anywhere. No one could get any work done, though, so I finally left work somewhere around 12 or 1:00, I think.
As I’ve mentioned a few times on this site, among the things I work on is an inflight magazine, and this was a hell of a first week to start that. The magazine was obviously affected by 9/11, and in the months that followed, the person I replaced apologized multiple times for how difficult things were when I was just learning the ropes.
I’ll admit that at the time, I was, I don’t know, overwhelmed and in denial, so I didn’t quite let the events sink in completely and affect me like they affected so many others.
Somehow, I kept it all at a distance. It was almost like I built a wall around myself on a subconscious level, and didn’t let it sink in emotionally. Part of the reason this was possible was that I didn’t know anyone who died that day, thank God, or who was directly affected — despite the fact that I grew up in New York and knew many people who lived there.
I’ve never had much of an attachment to New York (one reason I now live in Boston), so that must be another reason.
Instead, this was just a news event to me, one that happened to and affected other people — as bad, cold, heartless, and insensitive as that may sound.
It’s not that I didn’t sympathize with those who lost someone that day. I just couldn’t empathize.
Five years later, I am still at the same job and the magazine is more successful than ever.
And while others debate the merits and timeliness of movies like United 93 and World Trade Center, I can say I am affected by the events of 9/11 (and the recreations portrayed in those movies) now more than I was on the day itself.
For example, I watched the 9/11 documentary on CBS last night, and I don’t remember how I felt watching it the first time it was broadcast in 2002, but last night it was gripping television. The movie made me tear up and pause many times, as I felt like I was back on that day and I was living it again.
So I thank these movies for existing and being as good as they are. They are helping me understand and appreciate just how horrific this day was, and letting me experience it on a more personal level than I was able to in 2001.
Like I wrote at the outset, I have nothing terribly brilliant to say about 9/11. But I wanted to write something, even if it added no value to the general communal discussion.
No matter when or how the day’s events affected us, we all lived through them in our own way.
This was my story.