It was a Tuesday. I had taken the Monday and Tuesday of that week off from work--it was a good time to take personal days, after the always crazy start of the semester. I had house projects to do, and on Tuesday I was going to treat myself to a trip to Vintage Vinyl to get the new Ben Folds and They Might Be Giants albums that were released that day.
My wife had gone to work early--she was teaching a Rutgers class in the morning and was doing grad school. I stayed in bed but was up about 8:30. I made some coffee and, really, just on a lark, turned on the TV, where I saw the damage from the first plane. At that point they were still speculating it was some sort of explosion, or maybe a plane, but there was no doubt something was very wrong when the second plane hit, and our TV went out. Curiosity turned to fear, and I couldn't get in touch with my wife, since she didn't have a cell phone. I tried to get onto the Internet and watched as the CNN homepage wouldn't load. Eventually, they figured out how to put up static content that could handle the then massive amount of traffic. I also then figured out Channel 13 was still broadcasting, and turned to that to get updates. I watched the towers fall on TV.
Eventually my wife called in, and I asked her to come home as soon as possible. We had no idea was was happening or would happen, and I thought it was just best we were together. She came home and like everyone else, we just watched the TV, listening to each moment.
I went to work the next day, and everyone at Drew was basically in shock. We were fortunate that there were no student programs in the city, and everyone affiliated with the university was accounted for. We also were fortunate that none of our friends or family, or friends of friends or family were affected. Any pain I felt seemed insignificant to what so many others were going through those first few days.
We didn't have cable, so our only viewing choices were Channel 13 rebroadcasting ABC's news coverage or Telemundo. After a few days we started watching Mexican telenovelas just to get something besides the nonstop coverage.
On Saturday that week I went to Vintage Vinyl and bought my CDs. I figured trying to live my life was the best I could do. That feeling of suspended animation those first few weeks as we gradually got things moving again was incredibly strange, and every step towards normalcy was incredibly precious to me.
A few months later I developed a roll of film. It had pictures of the WTC from the ferry during an August visit to the city (we also went to a Yankee game with my inlaws) and immediately after that pictures of the impromptu memorials all over Washington Rock a few days after the 11th. You could see the towers from the overlook. I had thought about going up there at the time but didn't want to leave home.
Ten years later, so much has gone on in my life since then. I've had times of personal tragedy that have hit me harder than the towers going down, and some of the happiest times of my life too. I feel our country still has a lot of healing to do, and while we need to have resolve and strength, that we can move beyond fear and hatred. And we need to remember and honor those who we lost, and honor their loved ones for whom this very public day is very personal.