I didn't come into the office that morning until the first tower had already been hit. All of my coworkers had gathered in the conference room around the television and were watching footage of what I thought was a Cessna plane flying into Tower One. I don't remember what I did the summer of 2001, but in the summer of 2000 I spent a week and a half in NYC. I remember driving over the Manhattan Bridge and having the driver of my taxi say "Those are the Twin Towers. It's the World Trade Center." They were beautiful. Shining in the sun. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. I had written an article the week before and I had interviewed a man who was an iron worker on the Twin Towers. I always wondered how it affected him.
As we watched television and saw how the reporters struggled to identify what had happened (Is this an accident?), I realized that it wasn't a Cessna, but a commercial airplane. It seems that as soon as I had that realization, the second tower was hit. The realization was clear: This is not an accident. Someone is doing this on purpose. There was a collective gasp as we started to see people jumping out of the flames to the sidewalks below.
I called my dad to ask if this was the end of the world. By this time, I'd heard about the Pentagon and Flight 93. I thought that the Pentagon was being bombed. Daddy, they're bombing the Pentagon! I called my best friend Karli, Karli, is this the end of the world? The boss wouldn't let us go home, so for the rest of the day, I sat at my desk and pretended to work. I asked my boss if we could pray together. She said no. (Ironically, because many of the women I worked with went to the same baptist church. Actually, the wife of the head of the Southern Baptist Convention and his church organist were the number one and the number two people in the company. I remember wondering if you can't turn to your religion now what point is there in having your religion? I think that's shameful. I want no part of that religion.)
I went home at lunch, turned on the television to watch the coverage. I went to bed at night for a week with the television droning in the background.
I realize now that in a way, it was the end of the world. But I'm shocked that we're still here. That we haven't been attacked again. In the years between 2001 and 2006, I got married, bought a house, got a dog, dug a garden, saw my nephew graduate from high school, saw my two best friends have babies, found a new church home, and made plans for my future. My future. I really didn't expect to have one.