Growing up in Jersey, we have always felt a certain closeness with New York City. The thought that Carrie and all her girlfriends were just a merely hour and a half away having this fantastic life got us through our boring high school days. Too many times to count, the conversations with my girlfriends were about how one or two or all of us couldn't wait to graduate and move to NYC and live it up. Then broadway came into my life and I had a whole new love for the Big Apple. The way that you could be completely transported to a differently place and time in the 3 hours you sat in your theater seat felt like a blink in time.
I remember Septemeber 11, 2001, like it was yesterday. I was driving in the car with a boy who I had a major college crush on. I had woken up early, gotten my hair and make up just right and sat out on our dormroom steps waiting for him to pick me up. We met every Tuesday and Thursday to go have breakfast together and then get to our 11am class.
"Today", he said, "we are in for a real treat" . . . . "No disgusting caffeteria food today, we are going to IHOP". We were rocking out to whatever song was popular at the time when the music stopped and the DJ said that a plane had struck the World Trade Towers.
A pit in my stomach that would stay for days came reeling us to a stop. We literally pulled over on the side of the road and listened as they described the scene. Up ahead was a Dunkin Donuts who we knew had a Television so we made a beeline for the building. My mouth dropped as I entered the normally bustling coffee shop and there was already 10-15 people gathered under the television. We joined the group and sighs, moans, and Oh My Gods, were being whispered as the minutes proceeded. We came to know these people in the hours we stayed and watched. We couldn't bear to leave not knowing what was happening just a few short minutes away from us.
There was a men's group of retired "old cranks" (the term they gave themselves) who met every morning to get out of the house, away from their wives and talk about the times. One was a retired volunteer firefighter, one was a retired stock broker, one a retired real estate broker. All had a much different perspective then the two 20 year olds sitting next to them. We stayed for hours, not able to leave until we knew that everything was going to be okay. That feeling never came.
Never before in my lifetime had I felt in danger of attack. Had I felt like the security of "MY COUNTRY" been in danger. Much less the beloved New York City being under attack. Hearing people calling in saying they were trapped in the buildings and just wanted their loved ones to know they loved them. Watching as people saw no other choice to but leap to their deaths before the towers collapsed. But in the same heartache and sadness we also saw amazing acts of kindness up on the screen, for every 10-20 people you saw running away from the chaos you would see paramadics, firemen, random every day people running towards it trying to help.
You would see a group of 2-3 men carrying someone who could no longer walk on their own, women running and hugging other strangers who were sitting on the side of the road simply in a state of shock. While I did feel completely and overwhelming sad at what was transpiring, a flicker of hope and a sense of pride filled my heart knowing that in the midst of the craziest trauma my eyes had ever witnessed there was the American Spirit alive and well. People taking care of people.
The hours and days that followed were filled with alot of sad. Hearing of those confirmed dead, those who's loved ones couldn't and wouldn't ever be found. Children loosing their mothers, Mother's loosing their husbands. Children dying over an act of terror. But I dare say that for ever story of sad there was one of honor. The man that risked his life going back into the very same tower he had just exited because he couldn't leave knowing that there were still his friends and coworkers inside. For every minute that the news mentioned the horrible monsters that caused this, there were two minutes focused on the heroes who rescued, and saved, the masses!
Today I am choosing to focus on the good, the noble, the beautiful. The way that "our people" took care of each other. Sure the government could have done alot of things differently, but we, as one nation under God, a group of normal every day people. WE DID GOOD!
And when my children someday ask me about this day in History, I will tell them it was the day that their Mama was proud to be an American!
Adios Mis Amigos,