I was sitting on a train headed for the loop at Randolph Station, in Chicago, going to work. I remarked to myself what an absolutely beautiful day it was — the sky was clear, a bit of crispness in the air and sunny. A more beautiful day one could not have asked for.
The train was late. No explanations.
I arrived at my office and was greeted by my “boss!” “Barbara, something awful, terrible, the world has gone crazy, I’m so glad you’re here — go watch the TV!” I had never seen Alan emote this way ever. I ran to the conference room where the TV was on — I watched, as the second tower was being hit. I viewed that and some re-runs — I think, in my mind, it was so surreal that I believed I was watching an episode from a movie, not something real.
The 2nd Prudential Building, where I worked, advised us ALL to leave and go home — this was across the street from the building that formerly housed the Amoco Corporation, which later became the Aon Group Building (insurance). Why? Because, according to so-called threat knowledges, that building was also a targeted building.
Alan’s son called! “Tell my dad I want to go home.” I did, “Alan, you must go home and so must I.”
I waited an hour and a half for a train to take me home. There were so many nights that I didn’t sleep, couldn’t eat — as though someone had shot a bullet through my heart, but I was still somehow breathing.
Then, as I tried to sleep so many nights, I thought of the brave, brave New Yorkers, who witnessed the horrors right in their faces and I could not stop the tears — for weeks on end.
One such individual, Randgrither, a New Yorker and one who worked in one of the towers, who no longer posts here, wrote a most poignant individual accounting:
I can haz cheeseburger
More by: randgrithr
Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 15:20:53 PDT
Eight years ago today, my husband arrived home early from work. As he walked into the room, I rose from my bed and announced that I wanted to get something to eat.
This was a big deal because I hadn’t eaten anything for three days. I’d spent most of that time laying in bed, not wanting to be alive, not wanting to be awake, trying to wish the nightmare away. Sometimes I would get up out of bed and wander around the house. I’d drink some water and see if anything new was on TV. It wasn’t. I’d stand there for a few minutes watching on the idiot box what I’d already seen with my own two eyes, turn it off, and go back to bed. I slept a lot. I cried more than I care to remember. I’d reassure the cats, who were all expressing the worry and concern of communication-challenged but emotionally astute children.
Most television channels still had footage of the crumbling towers on eternal repeat, but a few were starting to show other coverage. The TV coverage didn’t come anywhere close to the chilling, thunderous sound of the collapses as I experienced them from only a mile away. It was very lost on me, and therefore very easy to walk away from or turn off.
The worst of my horror was the certain knowledge that there was no way the US intelligence community hadn’t seen this coming. I tried to push what I knew to the back of my mind, denying it, unable to deny it, unable to forget it, and unable to share it with anyone. The knowledge of this was kind of like the sound of the towers coming down – it was something you’d never understand unless you’d been there. It wasn’t going to be on TV. Trying to talk about it would get one looked at with the level of sympathy reserved for the insane. That didn’t make it any less real or any less horrifying.
My husband gently asked me what I wanted to eat, fully planning to make it for me. I said I wanted something that we wouldn’t have to cook ourselves. I’m not really a junk food fiend, but for whatever reason I settled on Burger King.
We went to the “Bravo Kilo” as we used to call it in the military, and I ordered my usual, which was a whopper with cheese, no tomato. While we were sitting and waiting for my first meal in three days, a fire broke out in the kitchen. The fire alarm began incessantly shrieking and strobing. Shortly a hook and ladder company came barrel-assing into the parking lot. The other people in the restaurant glanced uncomfortably and sadly at the firemen, still feeling the shock themselves from 9/11. I was quietly laughing like a crazy woman – the last damned time I’d been outside the house there had been the same scene… smoke and incessant sirens. Just what I needed, another overload of adrenaline. Nobody there except my husband would understand why I was laughing, but it wasn’t like anyone could hear me over the siren anyway. Eventually after what felt like an eternity tied to a mast, the husband returned bearing my food.
Three days of not eating won out over the adrenaline. I took my burger to go and we got the heck out of there. I ate it in the car.
Every year on September 14th, rich or poor, sick or well, at home or a hundred miles away from home, I go to my local “Bravo Kilo” and order a whopper with cheese, no tomato.
Now you know why.