Many people are writing about their remembrances of 9/11. It was actually one of our choice for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop but I didn’t choose it at the time. People have been writing about where they were when they heard, what they were doing, etc. It’s one of those moments that’s seared into our brain forever because I think it forever changed us all, no matter where we were living or what we were doing or whether we lost anyone or not because we all lost someone. It may not have been someone you knew personally but many of them became heroes that we all know now so we all in essence lost someone important in our lives. We just may not have known it at the time.
In September 2001 I was living outside Atlanta (just as I am now) and working for a chiropractic practice in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. We had an MD/DC practice and partnered with another chiropractic practice near Lenox Mall. Twice a week (every Tuesday and Friday) I had to go by the Lenox location to pick up patient charts, co-pays, insurance payments and correspondence before I went to our office in Buckhead. Since Lenox was farther than Buckhead and I then had to backtrack to our office those days I usually got to work a little bit after 9 instead of 8:30 or 8:45 (depending on that day’s traffic).
This particular day I must have gotten to Lenox before 9 and then I stopped at Starbucks on the way to our office. I always listened to the radio on the way to work so I would have had it on and heard as soon as it happened. Since I had stopped at Starbucks I had turned down the volume on the radio and since it was only a couple of blocks to our work I forgot to turn the volume back up therefore I had not heard anything when I walked in the door.
My office was on the far end of the bottom floor of the building but I always stopped by the area where the doctors did their actual adjustments and picked up the previous day’s paperwork from the receptionist. Our receptionist was not a particularly emotional person but when I walked in I knew something was wrong. She had a look of complete and utter shock on her face and she had tears in her eyes. She said “Have you heard?”
My immediate thought was that something had happened to one of our doctors or our office manager (she wasn’t in the best of health) so I tentatively answered “No?” as I braced myself for the worst. But my imagined worst paled in comparison to what the actual worst was. We did not have a TV in that part of the office, only in the office I shared with the office manager (since I was her assistant) but she had the volume turned up on her radio. I asked what was wrong and she said “A plane just hit the Twin Towers!” I was confused. I asked what she meant… was it a small plane? Was it taking off and something went horribly wrong? Was it some malfunction of its engine? She said she didn’t know for sure but there was a look of fear in her eyes.
I hurried down to my office. The office manager wasn’t there yet but our office door was open and there crowded around the small TV set on the managers desk were two of our chiropractors and one of the massage therapists and they all had tears in their eyes. As I walked in and looked at the screen that was when the second plane hit. We all watched in horror as we saw it hit the building. I remember the terror and cold fear that gripped me all day and the additional reports started coming in of the Pentagon and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. I remember everyone being in a panic thinking that we (Atlanta) might be next since the CDC is headquartered here. It was like we were waiting all day to hear or feel or see something right in our neighborhood next.
We didn’t get a lot of work done that day. Most of our patients cancelled and most all of us spent the whole day huddled around that tiny TV sitting on Lois’ desk. We pulled chairs in from other offices as those horrible images flashed across the screen again and again. I remember the audible and collective gasp as we watched the towers fall and listened to the panic in the newscasters’ voices as it played over and over and over. I remember the uneasiness and tension I felt for days and months afterwards.
I remember in the days and weeks to follow when planes finally started flying again, sitting at my daughters cheerleading practice, and since we were in the flight path to the Atlanta airport the planes would be very low when they flew over, and I remember the panic I’d feel every time they flew over for a long time. And I remember having to go to the airport shortly after they started allowing flights again to pick up my sister in law and how you could feel the tension in the air, the closer to the airport I got the more I felt the tension.
I remember several years later flying to New York with my daughter to talk with modeling agencies and during one of her appointments we were near ground zero so I asked if she wanted to walk down there. She declined. I felt a compulsion to go. I don’t know why. I don’t even remember ever even really thinking about going there until I was that close and then I HAD to go. I had NO IDEA it would affect me the way it did but standing there on the edge looking down into that HUGE gaping hole in the earth I was overcome by emotion. I stood there and cried like a baby. Actually leaned against a pole of some sort for support because I was so weak at the knees I thought I’d fall if I didn’t. It was more raw emotion than I think I have ever felt in my life. It was almost as if I could feel the souls of all those lost crying out. It was a very moving experience and I think I was forever changed by it just as our whole world was forever changed by the horror that was 911.