This isn’t the first time I’ve been out of the country for an American national holiday.
Back in 2000, I feel like I might have been in London for Labor Day. In 2009, I was in Mexico with my family for Independence Day, and this year, I’ve been here in Australia for the 4th of July, Labor Day and now 9/11.
It’s not that other holidays aren’t as significant or important to America’s history. But July 4th, celebrates our nation gaining its independence in 1776 and Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894. While there are times I feel old… I ain’t that old.
I lived through September 11, 2001. I was born and raised on Long Island. My family was in NY. About 99% of my high school graduating class was in Manhattan. I knew people who worked in and around the towers.
I would venture to say this is THE event of my generation. And to not be in the U.S. during this time of remembrance is, well, weird.
The Moo is too young to understand the gravity of the day.
So, I’ll share my recollection with you.
September 11, 2001, I was in Los Angeles. I was very new to Los Angeles. I had been there less than 3 months when the the first plane hit the first tower.
I was asleep.
My Dad called me early in the morning and I immediately panicked. I had been in LA long enough that (most) of my family recognized the 3 hour time difference. So I knew there was an emergency.
I never imagined this.
My Dad calmly told me to turn on the news.
Still in my pajamas, I went out into the living room and saw the second plane crash into the second tower.
My dad worked for the FAA. Could he be targeted? Would he be sent home? Was he going to be ok?
I woke up my roommate. My roommate who was a complete stranger less than 3 months prior.
We sat together all day. I’m not sure if we showered or changed out of our pajamas.
We didn’t leave. We couldn’t leave. We could only watch. Our TV and our phones.
All of the planes were destined for Los Angeles. Would one make it here? Where would it hit if it did?
We sat together as we tried, initially unsuccessfully, to call everyone we knew in New York.
We sat together as we cried. As we panicked. As we cried some more.
What did this mean for America? What did this mean for the world? Were we at war? Would there be a draft? Who did this?
After many hours of feeling helpless and even guilty for not BEING there, I thankfully learned that my family and friends in the city were all safe.
But there was one friend who I couldn’t get a hold of.
He had been a very close friend of mine and we had a bad falling out right before I left New York for Los Angeles.
But as soon as I started making phone calls that fateful day, I had to make sure he was ok. All day no one had heard from him. No one could get a hold of him. Our mutual friends were looking for him too.
I dreaded thinking about the last conversation we had.
It turned out he ended up walking across the Brooklyn Bridge without his phone.
We eventually connected and cried to each other. We explained how we each hurt one another and that our friendship was more important that one fight. We apologize and vowed to work through this.
That was the last time we talked.
I left him messages, but he never called me back.
I’m sure he has a different memory of our conversation after the events of 9/11 or how we left things. But it still makes me sad.
On a day when I thought I’d lost a friend… I found him… and lost him again.
September 11th will always be a day that brings about a flood of emotions. Don’t be afraid to share your memories. Appreciate the bravery of many. Remember your loved ones.
More to come,