11 September 2012

nyc in my heart forever

Today marks the 11th year since the attacks on 9/11 and yet each of us will never forget where we were on that day, what we were doing or who we were with.  I will always carry New York with me in my heart on this day and I will never forget.  I will listen to the names being read every year and count my blessings that my name is not on that list.  I love NYC - its people, its vibrancy, the feeling of 'alive' that you get being in a big city.  I was on an annual business trip but this year we had extended our stay so that we could shop for a few days and have lunch at the World Trade Center - on September 12th.  Instead we spent that day trying to escape the chaos.  
There are certain things that remain crystal clear to me, even all these years later.  That incessant sound of sirens ringing through the air.  To this day, I find myself freezing in my path when sirens race past me.  It's not that I think of 9/11 specifically but there is just this fear inside that halts me with that sound.  I remember my mother's voice when I called first thing that morning when we thought it was just a small plane that 'accidentally' hit the towers.  I called because I knew she would worry and think it was worse - it was then that she told me the gravity of it all.  Instantly we put CNN on the screen in the ballroom where we were running a dress rehearsal for the awards show scheduled for later that afternoon and we watched the horror unfold.  We were told at that point that we had to prepare to evacuate as our location was named the next potential target being that we were on top of Grand Central and next to both the Chrysler Building & the UN Building. I clearly remember going in to the room where the conference we were hosting was already in progress and having to tell hundreds of people what was happening.  Seeing people jump up and cry out statements like "my sister works at World Trade" or "my husband is a firefighter" and frantically attempt to use their cell phones though no phone lines were going through.  

I remember us wanting to go and give blood but were turned back because there was no survivors to give it to.  People were jumping out of the high windows to their death because, scarily, that was a better option than waiting inside for rescuers that couldn't get to the top.  We were told to go back in our hotel and wait because we were now an evacuation route. I remember the smoke and the ash and the horrible smell. I remember our ceiling collapsing in on us when the second tower fell and how we instantly grabbed our belongings and ran for the door.  We sat there with practically everyone else in the hotel in our giant ballroom, eyes glued to CNN on the big screen and no one uttered a word.  I made sure all our guests were checked back in to their rooms, that cots would be set up in our other ballroom for our local guests that were unable to get home, and that all our conference supplies were packed up - just in case we had to leave.  Maybe it was because staying busy made me feel more in control of this chaotic situation that was beyond any of our imaginations.  

I remember one of our clients taking us to dinner that night to a restaurant where I'm not sure people were really even working.  I remember people stopping us on the street with photos of their loved ones who were still missing - imploring us to stop & look in case we had seen them.  The fear and the reaching hope that perhaps they were still alive and not amongst the rubble of the towers. The crowded streets of New York were eerily quiet and populated mostly by armed guards watching over - it looked as though we were in a war torn country and I suppose at that point we were.  I remember not being able to sleep that night thinking that a bomb of sorts was still yet to go off in Grand Central and kill us.  The sirens never stopped. 

I remember the next morning taking the ferry across to New Jersey to board a bus waiting to take us back towards the Canadian border.  I remember watching the still smouldering buildings while standing next to men who were clearly part of the rescue effort, covered in debris and bloody scrapes, sobbing.  We eventually got to the Canadian border and hours later we finally crossed.  I remember finally stepping foot in my apartment all by myself and for the first time through it all, I cried.  There was such guilt for leaving without doing anything to help, even though realistically there was nothing we could do.  I remember not being able tear myself away from the tv - watching all the chaos not only in NYC but across the United States.  Every year I sit and watch and listen to each name be read aloud and I remember.  I will always remember as my way to honour to those who perished.  I will always remember. 

1 comment:

  1. xoxo. Happy and thankful to know you are safe and sound. Praying for the families that suffered losses. love you Linds.