On the morning of August 30, 2001, I enjoyed an iced cafe mocha in the plaza of the World Trade Center. I marveled at the sparkling buildings, the people hustling to work, the street vendors setting up for the day and the energy of the city in this gorgeous setting. The place was vital and alive. 12 days later, all that changed. My first reaction was disbelief. When the towers came down, all I could think of was what was happening to all the people I knew were in those buildings and the surrounding area. I also had friends and family in lower Manhattan that day. Though I was 200 miles away, the impact was personal and frightening.
In September of 2001 my daughter was starting her senior year at NYU. For 3 years she had educated me on the ways of New York City and how to get around. The twin towers were my compass in lower Manhattan. Always there, always tall. In those years, I had several other experiences with the Trade Center and the neighborhood. In 1999 I sipped martinis at The Windows on the World, a view I will never forget. In January of 2001 I spent a day alone in the city and had what I call "the New York epiphany". I fell in love with NYC.So much to do, so much to see. On my 45th birthday I took myself out for a drink in a Tribeca bar, met an actress and a spy and the next day experienced the beauty of the World Trade Center Plaza. The neighborhood was comfortable, homey and energetic.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, my daughter called me early. The view from her dorm room was the twin towers and Flight 11 had just flown past her window and into Tower 1. She was calling me to say I was probably going to see something on the news, but she was OK and was heading to class. Two hours later the towers fell and the world changed. Phone communication went down, we did not speak for several days. She was evacuated from her dorm, and sporadic e-mails kept me up to date on how and where she was. She took refuge with friends uptown, she would not come home. She had become a New Yorker, and she was sticking it out. Watching from a distance was hard.
The next few days were filled with endless media coverage of the attack. The emotions were hard to sort. Fortunately, everyone I knew in NYC was safe, but thousands had lost their lives. A local radio station organized a relief drive, and I worked the phones. The out pour of generosity from people was amazing, everyone wanted to help. The most memorable donations were a local store donating it's entire inventory of work boots for rescue workers and dog food and booties for the search dogs at the site.
Along with the attack of Flight 93 and the Pentagon, this attack on the US not only was a senseless act of murder, it also tore a hole in our security and well being. In the last 10 years there has been a restoration. We've started to feel safe again. Lower Manhattan is more vibrant every time I visit, and the city thrives.
I don't think an event like this is something you get over, I still tear up when I think of that day and the aftermath. In my mind, the terrorists not only attacked our country, they attacked my kids. I took it personally. My daughter graduated from NYU in 2002 with honors and is a writer and a Mom. She worked in Manhattan for several years before she started a family. Just yesterday, they were in mid-town with the kids and friends. I think she's still a New Yorker at heart. I visit the city often, and still revel in the culture, food, drink, parks, and people. For me, one of the most amazing places in the world. I have a book called Portraits 9/11/01 that was published by the New York Times, that has short stories of all the people we lost that day. It helps me remember to focus on the lives not the deaths. Terrorists will always be out there, but we are strong, we will persevere.