I was sitting at my desk, working like it was a normal Tuesday. Two days prior I had returned from a trip to San Francisco and Carmel Valley, where my cousin and I flew to visit my brother while he was training. I was still trying to play catch up for the week, and was swamped with paperwork.
The phone rang, and it was my boss’s son. He asked if we were ‘watching this on TV’. Not knowing what ‘this’ was, I said no. He explained that the first plane had crashed into the WTC. In between the time the phone rang and the time we found a TV, the second plane crashed. All work, in essence, stopped for the day. I had a boss who had a sister and a cousin that worked in those buildings, he was freaked out. Another boss had a sister that worked on the 45th floor of the first tower struck. She had a doctor’s appointment that morning, and had not gone to work yet. I had a sister (stepsister) that, until September 1, had lived in lower Manhattan and had extensive contacts with those that worked in those buildings.
Then the news that a plane hit the Pentagon. With a brother in the military and many friends in government work, I was freaked out. That one bothered me a bit more. I have friends that live on the Hill. I have friends that live across the river and could see the building smoking. Finally, the news of a plane diverted by heroic passengers to crash in Pennsylvania.
It was a trying day for everyone. Nobody wanted to be alone, and everyone wanted to know what on earth was going on.
At the time, my friend Plenipotentiary was a single mother to a seven month old boy. She, much more so than I, had many friends and family in the DC area and was equally in shock. We knew the President was going to speak that evening and while neither one of us liked his politics or agreed with a thing he had done since the day he arrived in office, we wanted to hear what he had to say.
We went to a local Irish pub down the street from where I lived at the time. I remember sitting there, with the baby, all of us having dinner watching the replay over and over and over again on the giant TV screen in the corner. When George Bush came on, the entire restaurant went silent. The kitchen staff came out to hear what was said, the waiters quit trying to hustle tables, the college students quit trying to hustle women, and we all–for a single moment–just listened.
I don’t remember what the President said that night, I don’t remember what we talked about at the table. I can’t say that I became a supporter of George Bush after the events of September 11, 2001 or that I even fully comprehended at the time exactly what had motivated these happenings. I just remember that in the evening of an event that has turned into a ‘where were you when’ moment, I was with family–both familiar and strangers. I was with those that were as confused as I, those that were as baffled as I, and those that were as needy as I was that night. I was with a pseudo-sister, and we drew comfort from just being in the presence of one another. And most of all, I remember looking at her baby boy, thinking about the world that this beautiful child was going to grow up in and wondering if it had changed forever.