I had plans that day. I was going to meet my friend Barbara for lunch. She was in town for a conference and we hadn’t seen each other in two years. Before meeting Barbara, I was going to pack. We were moving on September 13th. We had two days to pack up our apartment and head to, well, we didn’t know where. We were either going to Denver or Los Angeles. We decided to put our future in fate’s hands. Whoever got a job in whichever city – that was where we were going.
We were awake and trying to drag ourselves out of bed. The thought of having so much packing to do wasn’t motivating either of us to get out of bed anytime soon. The phone ringing at 9:05 a.m. was a different story. We actually couldn’t pack because UPS hadn’t delivered our boxes as scheduled the day before. The driver said no one was home. He was wrong; he called the wrong apartment. So, our progress hinged on UPS customer service and their promise to have our boxes delivered in the morning.
My then boyfriend, now husband answered the phone. It was my sister. “What is happening in New York City?” His response, “I don’t know. What?” She told him to turn on the TV. He did and he raced into the room to tell me I had to see what was going on. There it was. The World Trade Center on fire. All we had to do was walk outside, two blocks down and we could see it all unfold in person. We lived in Brooklyn.
My family had just been out to the East Coast to visit us. We were attending our cousins wedding in Plymouth, MA. So, we spent a few days together in New York and then drove to Boston for a few days. My younger sister and her boyfriend flew back home from Boston on Saturday. The rest of my family flew out of New York on Sunday. Of the many different scenarios when planning the trip, this was what we decided. The outcome could have been very different. We had all visited the World Trade Center exactly one week earlier.
My boyfriend had worked at the World Trade Center in the mall as a manager for Structure during the first year we lived in New York. Because of this, it had always been a special place for us. He had just been there the day before saying goodbye to former co-workers.
At some point that Tuesday morning, UPS delivered our boxes. The driver was a guy about our age, in his late 20’s, early 30’s. We told him we were surprised they still had him working; we hadn’t expected to get our boxes after the events that were unfolding.
He was so nice and calm when he told us his wife worked at the World Trade Center and he hadn’t been able to get ahold of her. I think of him every time I think of that day. I’m not sure how his story ended, but I always hope and pray it had a happy ending and he was reunited with his wife.
After watching the news coverage on TV for about an hour, we watched the South Tower fall. We were in shock and disbelief. We had been debating whether or not to go outside and see what was going on. We decided it was time. We walked outside to our view of the World Trade Center and we stood looking at what was left – the North Tower engulfed in flames. I only remember that the flames were so bright and orange and the smoke was so thick and black.
I turned to my boyfriend and said “The top portion is going to collapse. The flames are so intense it looks like it’s going to go at any minute.” I never in my mind thought the entire building would collapse in front of my eyes moments later. I couldn’t then, and still can’t believe I was witness to such a horrible act of hatred.
Our fate was decided that day. We were lucky. We moved to Denver. Not on September 13th, but a week later (and that story could actually be used in another blog post). Our story continues, but there are so many that day that do not. I think of all of them almost every day.
And I think of our service men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our freedoms and our country. Especially, the bravest of men and women who joined the services after this fateful day, including my Godson, Keelan, who is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps.