In 2001, I was living in Denver in a miniature 400 square foot apartment. The two-story, whitewashed brick building housed six tiny apartments, but had seen many incarnations since the dawn of the 20th Century, when it was born as a corner candy store.
I felt safe in my little nest. I adored everything about it. Two years later, MP would, in fact, be conceived in that apartment.
But back in 2001, THAT morning I was waking to the sound of AM talk radio. Like any other morning. I lay in bed on my back, eyes closed, slowly gaining consciousness. Listening to the news.
And then hearing what sounded like someone reporting, “It appears as though a plane has HIT one of the Twin Towers …”
I remember bolting upright, the exact words, “What the FUCK?” escaping my lips. I remember leaping out of bed to turn on the TV, just in time to see the aftermath of the second impact. I had literally missed it by seconds. I remember sitting on the couch, the same one I sit on now as I write this, mouth agape. The collective expression of a nation. Of the world. I remember watching as long as I could, before having to shower and get to an “important” off-site work meeting scheduled at a local hotel.
As I dried my hair, I paused to listen to the latest developments, and heard something about the Pentagon being hit.
They’re confused, I thought. The Pentagon wasn’t hit. It was the second tower. I looked out the bathroom door into the living room and saw the TV. Oh my God, they weren’t confused. The Pentagon HAD been hit.
Oh. My. God.
And now I have to rush out the door to a meeting. The world’s gone mad and I have to go on, business as usual. Furiously, I raced to the hotel, finding everyone gathered in the bar, silently watching events unfold. Eventually we were herded into a conference room to commence the meeting.
TO COMMENCE THE MEETING.
There we sat, 25 of us circling a walnut board table, trying to at least APPEAR as through we were paying attention to the speaker that had flown in the day before. It was ABSURD. Every few hours we’d break and gather in the bar, getting the latest news.
“What’s happened?” we’d ask each time. We were told the first tower fell. And we went back to our meeting. The next break we were told the second tower fell. And we went back to our meeting. I remember frantically trying to get ahold of my brother, who, at the time was working in the tallest, most recognizable building in downtown Denver. There were rumors of it being a potential target. Once I got through, I begged him to leave.
Unable to get through to New York, we all worried about our colleagues in the corporate office.
And still, the meeting went on.
One year later found me in Manhattan, visiting those colleagues, who thankfully, were all okay. But the shadow still loomed, and as uncomfortable as I was telling the cab driver to take me to “Ground Zero” I felt compelled to bear witness.
In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle just a few blocks away, the area surrounding the crater that marked where the towers once stood was eerily quiet. No cars honked. No one spoke. Pedestrians paused along the chain link fence lining the street in silent deference, many leaving flowers.
And people openly prayed.
I was one of them.