Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The weeks after 9/11 I spent in temporary office space

The weeks after 9/11 I spent in temporary office space. When the towers came down, the force blew through the windows of my office, across the street from the Towers, covering everything with dust and setting off the fire extinguishers, which then drenched whatever remained.

Even if the attacks hadn't precipitated a recession I would have been looking for work. The company I worked for was being purchased. The only question we had was would we be fired by our current company because business was down, or would we be fired by the acquiring company as part of the acquisition synergies.

I spent as little time in my temporary office as possible. I walked. A lot. I should have been looking for a job, but I wasn't. I walked.

There were posters of the lost everywhere. Taped to pay phones, sides of buildings, on bulletin boards. At a Duane-Reade near Union Square on 14th Street the entire north face of the building was covered in posters of people lost in the Towers. Some were "Have you seen?" At the time there was still hope that somehow someone had survived. I approached that wall and the pictures started to come into focus. The closer I got the better I could see how far down the side of the building the posters extended. No, I thought. No. It wasn't possible. It was not possible for this to have happened.

I was lost also, barely alive. On 9/11 I got stuck in Battery Park. We were eventually evacuated, via ferry, across the Hudson, to New Jersey. I sat on that boat and watched the smoke coming from the towers, where my office had been, where my job had been, where my life had been.

I knew it was 9/11 today, but it didn't really penetrate my consciousness until I got on the train this morning. Eleven years ago was very similar to today. It was a beautiful day. The sky was clear, the weather crisp. You could feel Fall coming. As the train brought me into Manhattan this morning, I looked out the window, and saw a plane. I flinched. Then I went back to my reading. I had things to do.

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