Monday, September 11, 2006

I Remember

September 11th 2001

I remember what I was wearing - this horrible blue shortsleeve Van Heusen shirt - my boss still makes fun of me every time I wear it: "Do you work for the post office?"

I remember the first call I got about the World Trade Center. Alex called me and told me there was a bomb at the WTC.

I remember Eddie's scumbag client immediately selling 400,000 MDY's, and then buying them back a few minutes later when the news came that it wasn't a bomb, but "just a plane."

I remember Jeff, a pilot, turning to me and telling me that it's impossible to accidentally hit the World Trade Center with a plane.

I remember Jeff S. crying out in horror when the second plane hit.

I remember the order I had on my desk: it was a small order from Van Kampen - and I remember yelling at Sean, one of my salesmen. "Fuck this Sean - we're not doing this order - we're leaving." I remember his reply: "We'll do whatever the exchange does."

I remember Ralph saying that he heard there were as many as 10 hijacked planes, and I remember his genuine concern for his employees.
I remember The Towers falling. It was perhaps the only thing more impossible than the planes hitting The Towers in the first place.

I remember not knowing where to go - not wanting to go to Grand Central, so eventually a bunch of us walked up to Ryan's future in-law's apartment.

I remember bumping into Sid, who I'd worked with 3 years earlier and not seen since. I remember what I said to him: "Fucked up huh?" What else could you say?

I remember sitting at Ryan's, glued to the TV, running to crane our heads skyward each time we heard jet engines - not knowing that fighter pilots were patrolling Manhattan.

I remember what I got to eat: chicken fingers from a nearby deli - they sucked.

I remember people rushing to withdraw cash from the ATM's.

I remember deciding to finally go home, taking Metro North with Tom - we had to go to Whiteplains because the trains weren't running on our line. I remember what we talked about on the train ride - which was jam packed, standing room only like a subway: we wondered how the terrorists had managed to plant bombs, demolition style, in the World Trade Center - we couldn't believe that they could crumble like that otherwise.

I remember the newspapers the next day. The 60-sigma images of the planes crashing into the towers. Simple impossible to imagine or describe.

I remember Tom having to go pick up the car of a friend who died in the attack. He had to pick it up from the train station and bring it home to the friend's widow. I think he did this more than once.

I remember walking around aimlessly for the next two days - no job to go to, no real way to go help at Ground Zero. I remember downtown Rye being shutdown because of a bomb scare at a bank. The downtown was made up of about 6 banks, and my apartment was above 3 of them.

I remember lying in bed at night as CNN had a camera on the Empire State Building, reporting that it had been evacuated, afraid to turn off the television, for fear of seeing a pile of rubble when I turned it back on.

I remember calling my friend Ara, who was out at Chatham on the Cape - in his parents' house, which is as close to a paradise sanctuary as I could get. I had to get away. I remember my boss calling my cell phone, and telling me they needed me back. I remember telling him that I wasn't coming back - I was going to Boston to see my family after I left the cape. I remember him telling me "You do what you think is right," which was his way of reminding me that he needed and wanted me back. I remember telling him, "I'm going to Boston. Bye."

I remember when the market opened after several days. I was sitting on Ara's couch, in front of a big bay window looking out onto the beach. I remember the Fed slashing interest rates, and the chain emails that went around explaining how if everyone "in an act of Patriotism" bought 10 shares of their favorite stock, then stocks would be fine.

I remember the funerals at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Every week - a massive procession of police and firemen. Bagpipes. I still cry when I hear bagpipes - but I think I've always done that.

I remember how I felt somehow cheated that no one I had known personally had died - and how angry I was at myself for feeling like that.

I remember the first time I played soccer with my current team: it was in December I think, on the rooftop of the parking garage at Pier 40, looking down toward the hole left by the WTC. I pulled my hamstring of course.

I remember the first time I went running down the West Side Highway after the attacks. Coming to the bend in the path where the World Trade Center should have dominated the skyline. And being brought to tears by the empty space. I remember then realizing how absolutely massive the hole in the SKY was.

I can't forget these things, and I don't want to. Wishing something never happened and wanting to forget that it happened are two different things. I am quite certain I will never forget the events of September 11th, 2001, and I value those memories, as unpleasant as they are.


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