Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Where were you?

Just over three months beforehand, we had moved from Chicagoland to Dallas, where Trey's company was headquartered. We were renting a cute but quirky little lopsided house in the shadow of downtown, just the three of us: Trey, me and Muddy Waters, our sweet old lab mix.

We were happy to be back in Texas, but I felt like a fish out of water in Dallas. It certainly didn't help that I'd successfully eluded gainful employment (and, by extension, social interaction) up to this point because I was, I insisted, still unpacking. (Yes, I am rolling my eyes at this.) But my slacking days appeared to be numbered: the previous week, I'd interviewed for a public relations position at Children's Medical Center, and I had a good feeling about the job. It would take me back to pure writing (and back to a salary I hadn't seen in a while, but that was fine) and give me the opportunity to write about something meaningful, rather than muse about the risks of junk bonds.

Hard to imagine that nowhere in our house were there diapers or sippy cups or itty bitty socks. Our conversations about procreation had shifted from the purely hypothetical to the possibly potential, especially since the birth one year before of our darling niece Isabel. But I still wasn't convinced that I was mommy material, and whenever Trey tried to talk seriously about having a baby in the coming year, I bobbed and weaved.

The night before, I could feel a cold coming on. So I woke up with no aspiration to leave the house or, for that matter, change out of my pajamas unless absolutely necessary. After watching Muddy sniff around the backyard for a bit, I sat down at the computer to e-mail an editor friend in Chicago; I'd submitted her name as a reference at Children's and wondered if she'd heard anything from them. The phone rang: it was Ellie, my mother-in-law, calling from Houston. She asked if I'd turned on the news yet. No, I said. Why?

A plane flew into the Trade Center in New York, she said. Really? That's weird, I responded. I said I'd check the Today show to hear what they were reporting. I hung up and tuned in. There were Katie and Matt, still puzzling through what had happened, when another plane flew into the frame... and then simply disappeared into the adjoining building. Everything. Slowed. Down. And the world was never quite the same.

How surreal were the hours that followed? I called Trey immediately, of course; they were aware of what was happening at the office and were checking the TV when they could. I couldn't bring myself to step away from the television for even a minute. I watched Jim Miklaszewski report live from the Pentagon when, suddenly, the background was filled with noise and commotion: another plane had been used as a missile. I can't recall who called whom, but in short order I was on the phone with my sister Sarah as we tried to piece together Daddy's schedule. Wasn't he supposed to be at the Pentagon that morning? (Yes, but his meeting had been pushed back to the week before, and he was safe at home.)

Sarah and I were still on the phone when, unbelievably, the first tower fell. Sitting on the couch in our den, I began shaking like a leaf. My mind was racing with the names of my Morgan Stanley colleagues who worked in that building. I'd last spoken with a portfolio manager there to tell him I was leaving Van Kampen, and he'd kindly wished me well. Was he okay? (He was; I heard later that every Morgan Stanley employee had safely evacuated.)

Somehow, in the sea of terrible news and mind-numbing ramifications, the banal occasionally bobbed to the surface. When everything seemed utterly dire and hopeless, the phone rang: it was a publications editor at Children's extending a formal job offer to me, which I numbly accepted. When I called Trey and begged him to come home, he gently refused: his office had previously scheduled a golf tournament that afternoon that was to benefit United Way, and the decision had been made to keep the date and up the fundraising ante.

Eventually, he came home. I turned off the television, at least for a little while. The nation grieved. The world extended sympathy and support to our wounded and mourning populace. And then, tentatively, life began to resume an air of normalcy, albeit under a cloud of apprehension and fear that my generation had never known before.

I went to work. Made friends. To my shock, conceived. Gave birth. Fell in love. Bought a house with room to grow. Grew. Fell in love again, times two. Now, here I sit, five years later.

But that day still seems like yesterday.


Anonymous sugpix said...


it will always feel like yesterday...the world changed that day, didn't it

thanks for sharing your perspective

6:33 PM  
Blogger ssg said...

So true. None of us will ever forget where we were as the tragedy unfolded. It almost reminds me of when I was a kid and adults would recall where they were when JFK was assigned. It's sad that now we can relate to that vividness of shock and tragedy.

11:29 PM  

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